Arvind, textile to retail conglomerate that is currently carrying out due diligence of the online fashion and lifestyle brand is in talks with Sequoia Capital-funded ecommerce company to acquire Freecultr, to become the latest brickand-mortar store operator to snap up troubled online ventures. The deal is expected in the coming months.
Freecultr will be acquired by Arvind Internet, the conglomerate's online arm that is spearheaded by Kulin Lalbhai, son of chairman Sanjay Lalbhai.
Freecultr started as an online fashion brand in 2011, recently launched a new digital crowd sourcing platform, Freecultr Express, which allows anyone to create and sell T-shirts through their tee-stores on the company's sites without any need to make investments in inventory, operations or logistics.
Under this format, Freecultr will produce T-shirts of the selected designs and the creator gets commission on sales. More than 5,500 individuals have used the platform to create more than 24,000 designs.
The company also operates nine Freecultr-branded brick-and-mortar stores, including in the National Capital Region, Mumbai, Dehradun, Lucknow and Bengaluru, according to its website.
In 2011, Freecultr raised $4 million from Sequoia. In the following year, it got another $9 million from Sequoia and Moscow-based venture firm Ru-net, started by Russian billionaire Leonid Boguslavsky.
Lately Freecultr has been in the market to raise funds, but without any success amid funding drying up and this prompted the company to initiate talks to sell to Arvind, the sources said. They have been boot-strapped lately and have been trying very hard to raise funds, a third person familiar with Freecultr said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
If the deal goes through, Arvind will become the latest among a host of offline retailers including the Future Group and Mahindra Group to acquire struggling online players.
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