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Wellness Forever plans $160M IPO

Wellness Forever, an omnichannel retail pharmacy chain backed by investors such as Adar Poonawalla of Serum Institute of India Ltd, is looking to roll out an initial public offering (IPO) that will raise ₹1,000-1,200 crore, said two people familiar with the development, and urged to not be named.

Established in 2008, Wellness Forever is backed by Ashraf Biran, Gulshan Bakhtiani, and Mohan Chavan. The company’s Wellness Forever pharmacy stores operate across Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, and Satara in Maharashtra, and in Goa and Karnataka. “This will be the first pharmacy retail chain to list on the Indian stock exchanges,” said one of the two people mentioned above.

“The company has already appointed investment banks and other advisers for the IPO. The work on its draft red herring prospectus is expected to begin soon. They will look at going public within this calendar year,” he added.

The intended IPO will be a mix of primary and secondary share sales, said the second person. “They need money to grow. They want to add hundreds of new stores in the coming years, expand to more states and all of that will need a lot of money. So far they have been funded mostly by HNIs (high net-worth individuals) and family offices. The IPO will see some of those investors sell part of their stakes in the company,” he added.

In November, the company had raised ₹130 crore from HNIs led by Poonawalla. Other backers include Amit Patni, Rajiv Dadlani, and the Thakral family. 

The pharmacy chain’s revenue increased to ₹870.79 crore in fiscal 2020, from ₹683.25 in the previous fiscal year, while profit was at ₹11.25 crore, against ₹8 crore a year ago, according to a report published by rating agency Crisil Ltd.

“Benefits from the promoters’ experience of over three decades and the strong market position for the Wellness Forever brand in Mumbai and nearby regions should continue to support the business. The company has expanded in other locations in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Goa, and currently has 184 outlets. Revenue has steadily increased to ₹870.79 crore in FY20 from ₹330.21 crore in FY16. The company plans to expand by adding new stores over the next two years,” the rating agency stated.

If the IPO is successful, Wellness Forever will have huge opportunities to expand its business and open new stores.

Shishir Gupta, Founder and CEO, StartupLanes

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