FILE PHOTO: A customer wearing a protective mask pushes a trolley with grocery items at a superstore of Reliance Industries Ltd, in Mumbai, India, October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Niharika Kulkarni/File photo

CHENNAI (Reuters) – Reliance Industries Ltd said on Sunday it has bought a 96% stake in online furniture retailer Urban Ladder for 1,821.2 million rupees ($24.4 million), furthering its attempt to expand its presence in India’s online retail market.

The Indian conglomerate is expanding its so-called new commerce venture, which ties neighbourhood stores to Reliance for online deliveries of groceries, apparel and electronics in a space currently dominated by Walmart Inc’s Flipkart and Inc’s Indian arm.

The purchase “will further enable the group’s digital and new commerce initiatives and widen the bouquet of consumer products provided by the group,” Reliance said in a filing to exchanges on Sunday.

Reliance Retail Ventures Limited, a unit of Reliance Industries, has an option of buying the remaining stake, the company said, adding that it intends to invest a further 750 million rupees by December 2023.

Urban Ladder, which counts Steadview Capital, SAIF Partners, Sequoia and Kalaari Capital among its investors, has raised $114.9 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, a business information website.

Indian news website Moneycontrol reported in July the company was looking to sell for a sixth of its peak value hit two years ago, following resignations of some top executives and job cuts in 2019.

Reliance Industries, controlled by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is lining up investors in its retail unit after the conglomerate raised over $20 billion this year from global investors, including Facebook Inc, by selling stakes in its Jio Platforms digital business.

($1 = 74.5800 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Alasdair Pal; Stephen Coates and William Mallard

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