NEW YORK — British supermarket retailer Wm Morrison Supermarkets has acquired a 10% stake in online grocer FreshDirect, based here, for about $50 million, both companies said last week.
Morrisons said the investment “will play a key role in the development of Morrisons' online food business in the U.K.” FreshDirect will have a minority stake of undisclosed value in Morrisons' planned online operations.
“We are excited for our new relationship with Morrisons,” said Jason Ackerman, FreshDirect founder and chief financial officer. “This investment is a strong endorsement of our unique business model from a major player in the supermarket industry. This new partnership and capital strengthens our ability to support our strong growth and continued expansion.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Dalton Philips, Morrisons' chief executive officer, will join the board of FreshDirect. In addition, Morrisons will place a team of workers in FreshDirect's headquarters facility in the Long Island City community in Queens “to learn about its profitable e-commerce model.”
“I have seen retailers all over the world. Few have inspired me as much as the team at FreshDirect, a highly successful and profitable food retailer with a track record of terrific customer service,” said Philips in a prepared statement. “What we learn from FreshDirect will be invaluable as we plan our own profitable e-commerce business for the U.K.”
A spokesman for FreshDirect told SN that “the Morrisons team's deep knowledge in food retailing will be valuable to the FreshDirect team.” Details about the working relationship with the Morrisons team, as well as whether or not FreshDirect might send its workers to the U.K. to help launch Morrisons' Web offering, were still being developed, the spokesman said.
FreshDirect currently delivers to customers in New York City and parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Westchester County and Nassau County in New York state. Morrisons operates about 403 stores in the U.K.