China’s leading vending company Ubox has secured 530 million RMB ($85 million USD) in funding from Carlyle Group in exchange for an undisclosed stake. The investment was made through the Carlyle Beijing Partners Fund, an RMB fund the investment institution has established with the support of the Beijing government.
The financing is earmarked to expand Ubox’s vending machine network across the country, improve its digital advertising businesses, and develop more value-added services.
Founded in 2010, Ubox is a key player in China’s vending machine industry. In addition to traditional vending services, Ubox is known for its pioneering O2O efforts in operating interactive vending machines, which enables customers to make purchases through their mobile app and then pick goods from offline vending devices.
Ubox machines support multiple payment methods ranging from credit/debit cards, to more popular mobile payment options like Alipay or WeChat Payment. Not only from retail sales, the company also makes money through ads on its online platform.
Operated under a franchise model, Ubox runs more than 30,000 machines across 58 cities in locations like transit stations and shopping malls across China, according to the company.
“China’s vending machine market is still at an early stage of development, with great potential for growth. The industry has seen an accelerated pace of growth in recent years, driven by increasing disposable income, rising urban population density and consumers’ preference for convenient lifestyles.” said Eric Zhang, managing director of the Carlyle Asia buyout team.
The deal points to the interest from foreign funds in China. As of June 2015, Carlyle Group has invested a combined $6.3 billion USD in 81 projects in China. The Ubox deal comes on the heels of Carlyle’s investment in transportation company Shanghai ANE Logistics Ltd. and equipment leasing firm JIC Leasing Co Ltd.
Image credit: Ubox