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MebelKart acquires 53central to provide group buying services


Online furniture marketplace MebelKart has acquired the crowd bargaining platform 53central.com for an undisclosed amount. Post acquisition, founder Josy Mathew will join MebelKart as the head of business development, along with the rest of the team.

53central used to provide group buying options for sports goods, for example a group of 20 kids deciding to buy cricket bats together would help the company drive costs down during product acquisition, subsequently enabling it to provide cheaper prices on the bats. It looks like the service has been shut down, as 53central.com now redirects to MebelKart.

MebelKart will use the acquisition to provide its own group buying services in the furniture category. The company has not yet provided a timeline for it but mentions that, “Group Buying is expected to become phenomenally large in case of the furniture and interior design industries. This acquisition will enable us to further strengthen our position in these sectors.” Interestingly, according to MebelKart, it will look at more acquisitions and acquihires in the future to expand to global markets.

Note that just last month, MebelKart raised $20 million from local search listing platform AskMe, which would be invested in the company over the next three quarters in return for a majority stake exceeding 75%. The investment would help AskMe acquire a share in the furniture marketplace category.

Interestingly, at the time the company mentioned that it would continue operating separately, with plans to merge into AskMe’s transaction platform in the future. In the meantime, AskMe would help the startup scale its operations across India, as AskMe’s group CMO and digital strategy head Manav Sethi said that MebelKart had been apparently struggling to fulfill certain order size and this investment would help it to scale operations.

Bangalore based MebelKart was founded by Rahul Agrawal, Nikhil Saraf and Ranjeet Vimal in 2012 and claims to list 90,000 products and sell over 100,000 furniture products in 400 cities from over 1,000 sellers.

Other developments in the online furniture space:

– Earlier this month, Fabfurnish moved from being a furniture marketplace to a “content-driven” platform for discovery and sale of curated products. It was not clear whether the company would continue to provide its traditional decor listings along with the curated looks, or move to a curated looks-only marketplace.

– Again this month, Sundeep Malhotra, who stepped down as CEO of Homeshop 18, launched a new interior design and home design platform called Renomania.

– In May, personalised home furnishings provider Livspace acquired the curated online network of interior designers Dwll.in for an undisclosed amount, a month after it acquired the design community and marketplace for consumers and design professionals DezignUp, also for an undisclosed amount.

– In August last year, online furniture retailer Urban Ladder had launched ‘UL Labs’, an initiative to work with digital startups from around the globe to develop solutions in various aspects of furniture buying. Following this, it launched an augmented reality app called Living Spaces in October. In November, the company acqui-hired the Delhi based online marketplace for home decor and furniture products BuyNBrag.

– Other players in the field include PepperFry and Magic Bricks, Snapdeal, Jabong, Flipkart, while aggregators like Junglee, eBay, Quikr, Olx also offer the option to buy furniture online.

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