Tencent-backed Yonghui Superstores sets up JV with AI unicorn 4Paradigm to prepare for new retail era

Bricks-and-mortar supermarket chain meets marketing and sales prediction startup.

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China’s bricks-and-mortar supermarket chain operator Yonghui Superstores said on Monday that it’s planning to set up a joint venture with Beijing-based artificial intelligence startup 4Paradigm.

In a filing with Shanghai Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Yonghui explained that as retail is turning increasingly more consumer-centered, the company needs to better understand and identify widely differentiated consumer needs.

Yonghui will contribute RMB 40 million (USD 5.7 million) to hold a 40% stake in the JV while 4Paradigm will pay another RMB 40 million, taking the same stake. The remaining 20% will be held by the management of the JV.

Yonghui made RMB 41.2 billion in total revenues in the first half of 2019, up 19.7% year-on-year and collected 1.35 billion in net profits, up 45% year-on-year. The company’s 2018 financial report shows that Tencent holds a 5% stake in it.

4Paradigm claims on its website that it has provided marketing solutions to some Chinese banks including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the largest bank in the country and that it has aided a big supermarket chain with its sales prediction solutions, without naming it.

The Chinese startup closed its Series C round of equity financing, collecting RMB 1 billion, 36Kr reported late last year, which made its valuation reach USD 1.2 billion.

By then it had already had all four state-owned banks as its investors, including the Agricultural Bank of China, the Bank of China, and China Construction Bank.

Sequoia Capital China is also among its investors, according to 36Kr.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company