JM Financial Private Equity has invested Rs 35 crore in Pune-based consumer packaged food company Walko Food to fund the company’s expansion plans.
This marks the closing of the eighth investment by JM Financial India Fund II. The investment was in line with its strategy of investing in growth companies in the mid-market space.
Walko Food Company owns a natural ice cream brand NIC. The company operates a manufacturing plant in Pune and retails in over 50 cities across India, via multiple sales channels like food delivery platforms, modern trade, parlors and HORECA. NIC is the highest selling ice cream brand on foodtech platforms.
Proceeds from the investment will be used for brand building activities and augmenting the existing capacities of the company.
Jeetendra Bhandari, founder and managing director, Walko, said, NIC had emerged as a fast growing natural ice cream brand in the country during FY20-21 and was rapidly scaling up. “This growth capital infusion and partnership with a seasoned investor like JM Financial Private Equity will help us accelerate our current expansion plans and expand market share,” he said. Walko plans to deploy funds to increase geographic penetration, open flagship parlors, manufacturing capacity expansion and marketing.
Darius Pandole, managing director and CEO, PE & Equity AIFs, JM Financial, said the domestic ice cream market was large and growing and there was a long runway of growth banking on low per capita ice cream consumption, foodtech platforms and development of multiple distribution channels and formats.
“Within the broader ice cream market, NIC has established a good product market fit with its differentiated, high quality natural ice cream and direct to consumer strategy. All these factors have led to a strong brand recall for NIC and a healthy customer repeat ratio. NIC is well-placed to address the changing customer preferences for relatively healthier, preservative free snacking options. The fund infusion will help the company scale-up its business and expand its market share.”
NIC recently launched its desi kulfi brand Grameen. NIC’s ice cream flavours are inspired by Indian sweets like gulab jamun, sheer khurma, til gud and gajar halwa apart from the traditional variants such as fruit, dry fruit variants, salted caramel, chocolate and vanilla.