MUMBAI, IndiaJune 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — JM Financial Private Equity (the “Fund”) has finalized an investment in a Pune based consumer packaged food company, Walko Food Company Private Limited (“Walko” or the “Company”), to fund the Company’s current expansion plans. Proceeds from the Series-A investment will support brand building activities and augmentation of the existing capacities of the Company.

Walko Food Company owns a fast growing natural ice cream brand “NIC”. The Company operates a manufacturing plant in Pune and retails in over 50 cities across India, via multiple sales channel like Food Delivery platforms, Modern Trade, Parlors, and HORECA. In a short span of time, NIC has emerged as one of the leading national brand in the natural ice cream category and is the highest selling ice cream brand on FoodTech platforms. In addition to NIC, the Company has recently launched desi kulfi brand “GRAMEEN”. The ice creams range from fruit, dry fruit variants’ to international tastes like sea salted caramel, Madagascar chocolate, French Vanilla and the ones inspired from Indian Mithais like Gulab Jamun, Sheer Khurma, Til Gud, Gajar Halwa to name a few. The Company is founded by Mr. Jeetendra Bhandari, a first generation entrepreneur who brings decades of professional experience in USA with leading MNCs like Coca-Cola and Walmart.

Commenting on the capital raise, Mr. Jeetendra Bhandari (JB), Managing Director, Walko said, “This growth capital infusion and partnership with a seasoned investor like JM Financial Private Equity will help us accelerate our current expansion plans and expand market share. NIC has emerged as a fast growing natural ice cream brand in the country including during FY20-21 and is rapidly scaling up.  Walko is focused on building brands which deliver on quality, innovation and superior customer experience. Walko plans to deploy funds to increase availability to 100+ cities in the next 12 months, open Flagship parlors (Experience Centers), develop a strong franchise network, manufacturing capacity expansion and marketing.

In the fast changing Sales Channels, the FMCG companies are adapting to the dynamic landscape. Home Delivery channel is here to stay and Walko’s focus on developing NIC sales on this channel is paying off. The consumer insights are very encouraging for the brand NIC is strong. Anecdotally it appears that the initial discoverer of the brand, have become committed ‘brand ambassadors’; with people have gifted NIC amongst family and friends on new born, a consumer wanting to gift his friend on his birthday year long supply of NIC.

Ice cream per capita consumption in India is very low when compared to G-20 economies and as such it provides long term secular growth opportunity. We see excellent growth potential for NIC and GRAMEEN in the coming years.”

Commenting on the investment, Mr. Darius Pandole, Managing Director & CEO, PE & Equity AIFs, JM Financial said, “The ice cream market is a large and growing market and we believe that there is a long runway of growth on account of low per capita ice cream consumption, increased access and development of multiple distribution channels and formats. Within the broader ice cream market, NIC has established a good product market fit with its differentiated, high quality natural ice cream and direct to consumer strategy. All these factors have led to a strong brand recall for NIC and a healthy customer repeat ratio. NIC is well placed to address the changing customer preferences for access to relatively healthier, preservative free snacking options. The fund infusion will help the company scale-up its business and expand its market share.” This is the eighth investment from our Fund II, and is in line with its stated strategy of investing in growth companies in the mid-market space.

Advisors on the deal included Dexter Advisors (Investment Banker) and Think Law (legal advisor to JM Financial India Fund II).