Norwegian grocery delivery scaleup Oda is merging with its Swedish counterpart Mathem, the companies announced today.
The all-stock deal leaves Oda’s shareholders in the clear majority.
By combining forces, the companies hope to use Mathem’s customers and Oda’s tech platform to increase efficiency and become a cheaper alternative for cost-sensitive consumers.
“This is a dream come true for me,” says Oda’s cofounder and CEO Karl Munthe-Kaas. “We've discussed merging these two companies since 2019.”
A win-win solution?
The two companies have both seen their valuations drop by more than 50% since 2021 and have taken a beating from higher interest rates and growing price sensitivity among consumers.
In December of 2022, Oda raised a €150m funding round at a post-money valuation of €350m — losing its unicorn valuation from 2021, when SoftBank invested in the company. The plan was to use the capital to expand in Finland and Germany.
However, as markets changed so did Oda’s plans — and those of some of its investors. “SoftBank left” — and Oda pulled out of Finland and Germany earlier this year.
“Previously, there was an option of brute forcing into countries and that's just too capital intensive with the current financial climate,” Munthe-Kaas tells Sifted.
Since July, Oda has been focused on its home market, Norway, where it’s doing well. On an operating level, it has a positive EBITDA and has the world’s most efficient warehouse system, with a UPH (average units processed per labour hour) of 250, which is way ahead of the competition, according to Oda.
However, the platform needs high volumes of grocery deliveries to cut its distribution and logistics platform overheads, which a small market like Norway isn’t able to provide, says Oda and Mathem investor Kinnevik’s CEO Georgi Ganev.
“In Norway, there aren’t the volumes to completely finance Oda’s platform — [so] then great volumes are of interest,” he says.
Swedish Mathem has seen losses grow in the past few years, creating a constant need for new capital. Those rounds have led to a gradual decrease in valuation. From a €360m valuation in 2021, it most recently was valued at €20m in May 2023 with a revenue of 2.3bn SEK (€200m) in 2022.
Its UPH is about 140, leaving a lot of room for improvement when it comes to efficiency.
A happy investor
Kinnevik has been a backer of both Oda and Mathem for many years and has seen the valuations of the two companies drop in the last couple of years.
With 32% ownership in Mathem and 27% in Oda, it now owns 25% of the shares in the new combined company.
“Online grocery shopping has had a difficult time following the pandemic, with higher interest rates and price-sensitive consumers, but we can now see that Oda is returning to good growth and, in recent months, Mathem is picking up,” Ganev says.
“In a few years, we believe that the penetration of online grocery will increase substantially.”
Munthe-Kaas will take the CEO role of the Oda Group and the CEO of Mathem, Johan Lagercrantz, will continue running the Swedish operation.
It might not be the company’s last merger, either.
“Between logistics-as-a-service on the one end, and mergers on the other, there’s a whole spectrum of options and I think for Oda, it’s right to explore them and we are currently in dialogue with other partners on the entire range of options,” says Munthe-Kaas.
“We’re super excited about this and I think it is also a step in a longer journey to become Europe’s number one online grocer.”