Rakuten buys logistics firm to boost delivery


Play.com owners Rakuten has bought French e-commerce logistics business, Alpha Direct Services, as the Japanese retail giant looks to bolster its European operations. The acquisition marks Rakuten’s first logistics investment outside of Japan and is set to provide business synergies for its global e-commerce marketplaces, in particular Rakuten’s European business including PriceMinister in France.

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Beauvais, ADS (www.alpha-d-s.net) is France’s leading ecommerce logistics business with over 100 merchants ranging from small businesses to large well known brands such as Nestle, L’Oreal and Sarenza.

Over the last decade the company has established a full service e-commerce logistics model encompassing front-end websites, order management, warehousing, fulfilment delivery and customer support.

Markedly, from a retail service perspective, the acquisition will allow merchants to capitalize on same day delivery in Paris and next day delivery across Europe. ADS is currently owned by its founder, Adrian Diaconu, and FCDE (http://www.fonds-fcde.fr), a French capital-growth fund.

Following recent investments in e-commerce marketplaces across Europe, the acquisition of ADS represents a significant step forward in building out Rakuten’s e-commerce services capability and marks the company’s sixth European acquisition since 2010.

Rakuten will benefit by adopting best practice automation processes including ADS’s unique robotic automation system to reinforce its existing logistics services and improve operational efficiency in Japan.

Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, explained the strategy behind the acquisition: “Speed and quality of delivery is at the heart of any solid e-commerce proposition and ADS will give us a logistics stronghold in Europe, which will further empower merchants using Rakuten’s marketplaces, as well as supporting future marketplaces. ADS’s management team, their proprietary warehouse automation technology and existing infrastructure have strong synergies with Rakuten’s ecommerce and logistics businesses, and will be invaluable as we continue our growth in Japan and globally.”

Adrian Diaconu, Founder and CEO of ADS, commented on why the business is a solid acquisition for Rakuten: “ADS’s business success to date stems from our strong relationships with merchants of all sizes as well as the flexibility and scalability of our e-commerce logistics model. We also bring our strong culture of in-house development and innovation, which fuelled the development of our unique robotic automation system. This culture of partnership, innovation and growth is very much in line with Rakuten’s and we are excited to become part of their wider business plans.”

“This deal is a significant step forward, not only for Rakuten’s PriceMinister, but for the development of Rakuten’s global business. By drawing upon ADS’ market expertise and cutting-edge warehouse automation technology, developed here in France, we now have the potential to build a truly global ecommerce logistics offering from the ground up. We are excited to extend the existing support offered to local merchants selling via the Rakuten PriceMinister marketplace and beyond”, added Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet, CEO, Rakuten’s PriceMinister.


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