INDIA – Omnichannel eyewear unicorn Lenskart has acquired a majority stake in Japanese eyewear brand Owndays in a deal that is reportedly around US$400 million.

The deal will extend the merged entity’s reach to 13 Asian markets, including India, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan, the companies said.

Owndays Co-founders, CEO Shuji Tanaka and COO Take Umiyama, will continue to be shareholders and lead the management team which will continue to operate as a separate brand.

The current major shareholders L Catterton, Mitsui and Principal Investments will exit their positions to Lenskart.

Peyush Bansal, co-founder and group CEO at Lenskart, said, “In today’s age, the customer wants great products, great prices, and delightful experiences all the time.

With Owndays, we move a step closer to democratizing eyewear. I have known Shuji-san and Take-san for over five years and have been an admirer of the disruptive brand and customer experience they have built. There is much we can achieve together which will be greater than the sum of its parts.”

Shuji Tanaka, Owndays founder and CEO, said, “I believe digital transformation is the key to our next phase of growth in the post-pandemic operating environment, and I am excited to partner with Lenskart, which has deep expertise and intellectual capital in the information technology field.”

The acquisition will allow Lenskart to increase its presence in the premium segment. Owndays will continue to operate as a separate brand.

The current major shareholders L Catterton, Mitsui and Principal Investments will exit their positions to Lenskart.

The company said it will continue its rapid expansion in India and South East Asia to serve the mass to mid-premium segments while Owndays scales swiftly to cater to premium segments.

The development comes at a time when Lenskart, backed by SoftBank and Premji Invest, is finalizing a new round of funding at over US$4.5 billion valuation, according to people familiar with the matter.

Neso Brands, a subsidiary of eyewear retailer Lenskart, secured US$100M in May from KKR, Softbank, Alpha Wave Global, and Temasek. Lenskart, one of the first unicorns in the Direct-to-Consumer industry, is now valued at US$4.3 billion.

Lenskart ships over 10 million pairs of eyewear every year and has over 20 million app downloads, 300 home eye test representatives as well as over 1,100 stores across India, Singapore, and Dubai.

Founded in 1989, Tokyo-based Owndays designs and manufactures optical eyewear. The company operates over 350 shops across Asia in locations including Japan, Singapore, Australia, India and Hong Kong.

The firm, which received backing from L Catterton Asia and Mitsui in 2018, never disclosed how much money it had raised, but it was in conversation with private equity firms Longreach and Navis Capital to sell the business, Bloomberg reported early this month.

Lenskart on its part grew by 65 percent year-on-year in 2021 and is on track to grow by another 50 percent in 2022. It is also building up its tech team from the current 300 to 500 people in FY23.

It has also invested in deeper supply chain integration and automation, which will be used by both brands to improve consumer offering and unit economics

This will help it build a stronger online and Omni experience for Owndays, said the company in a media release.

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