Local flower delivery startup LVLY has been acquired for a massive $35 million by south-east Asian tech firm Limitless Technology, amid growth in online flower delivery over the past two years.
The deal will reportedly deliver Melbourne-based founders Hannah Spilva and Verity Tuck a windfall of $20 million.
LVLY co-founder and chief executive Spilva said the move will accelerate their vision to firmly establish LVLY within APAC.
“We’ve been through a period of rapid growth in the Australian market but have always had our sights set on becoming a global business,” Spilva said in a media statement.
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“Working alongside Limitless we are able to accelerate international expansion opportunities as well as increase market share domestically.”
Based in Kuala Lumpur, Limitless Technology launches, scales, and acquires profitable e-brands across Asia Pacific, with a focus on gifts, confectionery, health, and fashion.
Following the news, LVLY has confirmed Spilva will take a board seat at Limitless Technology and Tuck will leave the business.
Launching the business in 2015, LVLY’s founders sought to create an affordable flower delivery business that would allow people to more frequently let friends and family know they were thinking of them with flowers.
LVLY’s revenue grew by 629.9% over the three years to 2021, landing the business the fourth spot in SmartCompany’s Smart50 Awards in 2021.
As of the 2021 financial year, the brand’s annual revenue had reached $13.9 million, with 162 employees working from its locations in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and across Australia.
Spilva and Tuck both worked in advertising before launching LVLY. The pair previously told SmartCompany their backgrounds in brand strategy helped them see a glaring gap in the online flower and gift-giving market.
“There wasn’t a company or brand currently fulfilling that need in the market,” Spilva told SmartCompany in 2021.
“What started as a desire to spread joy has evolved into a fast growth e-commerce business that has disrupted the Australian flower category and set new standards for same-day delivery,” the team said.
They credited LVLY’s success and rapid growth to the platform’s simplicity and personalised touches.
Customers can select the size of the ‘flower jar’ they wish to send, along with the message, but leave the selection of the fresh, locally sourced blooms to be delivered the same day to the company’s expert team.
In a market traditionally dominated by larger players the brand’s point of difference is its irreverent messaging that goes against the grain of the traditional flower delivery experience. Messages available include “Hey there hot stuff”, and gift options range from mini cocktail sets and hot sauce, to candles and even a designer vibrator from brand The Smile Makers.
The brand is also passionate about strengthening the local flower market with a commitment to work with Australian farmers and suppliers. Around 40% of flowers sold in Australia are imported from overseas, the company claims.
A blossoming industry
LVLY currently operates same-day deliveries in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, and one-day delivery in other Australian locations.
While flower sales overall were dampened by the rolling lockdowns that kept many Australians housebound over the past two years, flower delivery has blossomed.
The growing uptake of online shopping has boosted industry revenue for online flower retailers.
Despite challenges around supply chains and rising consumer costs, industry revenue is expected to increase by 10.6% over the five years through 2021-22, to $383.8 million.
LVLY was advised by Deloitte Corporate Finance and Hitch Advisory, and Limitless Technology Group was advised by Bell Potter Securities and Baker McKenzie.
Venture debt was provided by Silicon Valley-based Partners For Growth.
Limitless Technology, which is eyeing an initial public offering, said in a statement the firm saw significant opportunities to expand the company’s footprint beyond Australia.
“We expect LVLY to be highly successful beyond Australia. At the same time, Limitless brands benefit from LVLY’s synergistic operational footprint with market-leading same-day delivery across Australia,” Maximilian Lotz, founder and chief executive of Limitless Technology, said.
“From our first meeting, it was clear that the LVLY brand is a fantastic fit in Limitless’ portfolio,” Lotz said.
Spilva said the brand was also pleased to be working with a firm that shared its purpose-driven strategy.
“At the heart of our brand lies a strong social and environmental conscience. We’re guided by 3 simple principles – to be lovely to people, lovely to Australia and lovely to our planet,” she said, adding this would continue following the buyout.
“Our commitment to supporting local and treading lightly on the planet is underpinned by our Paddock to PosyTMsupply chain working with local growers and wholesalers.”