Etisalat completes the acquisition of online marketplace elGrocer

The deal value will not exceed $10.4m, the UAE telecoms operator said

The purchase of elGrocer will complement Etisalat UAE’s existing marketplace services under the Smiles brand. Pawan Singh / The National
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Etisalat has completed the acquisition of elGrocer, an online marketplace for groceries that operates across the Emirates.

The acquisition value will not exceed Dh38 million ($10.4m) that includes up to Dh30m for the 100 per cent shares of elGrocer, the UAE's biggest telecoms operator said on Friday. Etisalat did not, however, disclose the exact transaction amount.

The purchase of elGrocer will complement Etisalat UAE’s existing marketplace services under the Smiles brand that includes online food delivery, lifestyle offers and the ability to earn and redeem points at more than 7,000 outlets across the country. Launched last year, the Smiles food delivery platform has nearly 2.7 million members.

“We strongly believe in bringing elGrocer on board … we will be able to empower our customers by providing more tailored and unique propositions, extending the possibility to earn and redeem Smiles points on online grocery transactions and offering exclusive discounts,” Khaled ElKhouly, chief consumer officer of Etisalat UAE, said.

Online shopping has surged in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, which permanently changed consumer habits.

A Visa survey in November found that more than six in 10 consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are now shopping online more, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Founded in 2015, elGrocer brings together major retailers and specialty stores on a single platform with more than 500 outlets and 120,000 products listed. It has strategic partnerships with major global and local fast moving consumer goods companies.

“We look forward to Smiles and elGrocer coming together to bring more access, value and innovation to enhance UAE consumers’ daily lives,” elGrocer chief executive Raed Hafez said.

“The power of the Smiles technology, customer base and currency, combined with elGrocer’s retail network, shopper expertise and consumer services will bring new benefits and experiences to the market,” he added.

The elGrocer transaction is the latest in a string of deals Etisalat has forged to boost its portfolio.

In October, it signed a binding agreement with Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence services provider G42 to merge their data centre services and create the UAE's largest data centre provider.

In August, Etisalat acquired an additional stake in Maroc Telecom Group, increasing its effective ownership from 48.4 per cent to 53 per cent.

“Consumer habits are changing very fast, and together we will empower consumer lives ... and offer the market new unique services … we are also quickly expanding our current retail network of supermarkets and specialty stores across the Emirates,” Nader Amiri, founder and chief operating officer of elGrocer, said.

Updated: February 24, 2022, 7:49 AM