Flipkart pares losses, boosts revenue at its largest unit

Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd, the firm’s wholesale cash-and-carry entity, posted revenue of Rs13,177 crore, up 43% from Rs9,226 crore in the previous year


Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Flipkart managed to increase revenue and reduce losses at its largest Indian unit in 2015-16, regulatory documents sourced from data platform Tofler show.

Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd, the wholesale cash-and-carry entity, posted revenue of Rs13,177 crore ($1.93 billion), up 43% from Rs9,226 crore in the previous year, the documents show. Its loss during the period narrowed to Rs544.6 crore from Rs826.7 crore in the previous year.

Along with Flipkart Internet Pvt. Ltd—the e-commerce marketplace, which books commissions on each sale—the two Flipkart entities together earned roughly Rs15,129 crore ($2.2 billion) in 2015-16, compared to Rs10,390 crore in the previous fiscal. The loss for the two entities mounted to about Rs2,850 crore, compared to about Rs2,000 crore a year earlier.

Throughout the year, India’s premier Internet start-up was locked in a high-stakes e-commerce market-share battle with arch-rival Amazon, the outcome of which could well define the future course of India’s startup ecosystem.

“Though there are losses in the year, there is a significant increase in the revenue from operations and your directors see huge potential in the overall market. Wholesale cash and carry business is a long-term play and your company shall be able to turn profitable with scale,” Flipkart said in the documents.

A Flipkart spokesperson did not respond to an email sent on Sunday seeking comment on the numbers.

Flipkart, which had opened a subsidiary in China in October 2014, called Flipkart (Shenzhen) Trading Co., to source products from sellers in that country, decided to wind up the business due to unfavourable operating conditions, amid a broader effort to reduce costs. The authorized capital for the Chinese subsidiary was 400,000 renminbi (Rs39.1 lakh).

Flipkart had set up the Chinese subsidiary in 2014 for its private label business.

“Your company has decided to shut down this Chinese subsidiary since the business that the subsidiary planned to undertake was found to be unviable in the present circumstances,” Flipkart said in the documents.

Flipkart India said it had reserves of about Rs6,354 crore ($935 million) in a securities premium account at the end of 2015-16.

On 26 December, Mint reported that Amazon India’s revenue more than doubled in 2015-16, but so did its loss, as the Indian unit of the Seattle-based Internet giant went all-out to topple Flipkart from its No. 1 position. Amazon reported a loss of about Rs3,572 crore, or around $500 million.

In November, Flipkart Internet had reported a twofold increase in loss to about Rs2,306 crore on revenue of Rs1,952 crore for 2015-16.

Under the stewardship of Binny Bansal, who took over as chief executive officer in January last year, Flipkart has aggressively slashed costs and more than halved its monthly burn rate to roughly about $40 million—including its Myntra and Jabong subsidiaries.

However, the company has still spent copious amounts of money beefing up internal processes, boosting technology and building warehouses across the country, as it strove to reverse market share losses to Amazon.

With Amazon India closing in, the biggest challenge for Flipkart is to ensure that it grows rapidly and increases market share by pumping in more money towards marketing and discounting efforts, while also ensuring that losses don’t spiral out of control.

While the going has been tough for Flipkart over the past year, under CEO Bansal and commerce head Kalyan Krishnamurthy, the company has shown signs of resurgence and glimpses of its former trailblazing self. It comfortably outsold Amazon in October, a key festival season month.

Flipkart, which raised about $2.6 billion in its last four funding rounds, is currently looking to raise a fresh round of funds and is considering appointing an investment bank for the first time in years to try and attract new investors to its next round of funding, Mint reported on 25 November.

Mint also reported on 9 October that Flipkart will hit the market to raise $500 million to $1 billion in fresh funds before the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year. For its next round, Flipkart’s preferred valuation is around $15 billion.

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