Licious scooped up $150 million just before the beginning of FY23 but the large funding has not translated into even a double-digit growth for the D2C meat and seafood firm in the last fiscal year.
Licious’ operating income remained flat with mere 9.6% growth to Rs 747.7 crore during FY23 from Rs 682.5 crore in FY22, its consolidated financial statements filed with the Registrar of Companies show. The revenue is less than half of what the company had projected for FY23.
Profit / Loss
It’s worth noting that the company had recorded a 65% spike in scale in FY22. Probably it may have been the reason for the optimism.
Founded in 2015 by Abhay Hanjura and Vivek Gupta, Licious sells meat, seafood and ready-to-cook items across 25 cities. The sale of these products formed the majority source of revenue for Licious. The company also made Rs 61 crore in FY23 through non-operational activities. Check data intelligence platform TheKredible to decode Licious’ revenue breakup.
Being an inventory-led play, the cost of procurement of meat and related products formed 49.2% of the overall expenditure which grew 16.2% to Rs 644 crore during FY23. Its employee benefits, advertising, transportation, legal, and other operating costs pushed the expenditure by 9.9% to Rs 1,309 crore in FY23. Check TheKredible for the detailed expense breakup.
- Cost of materials consumed
- Employee benefit expense
- Advertising promotional expenses
- Transportation distribution expenses
- Legal professional charges
Even with stagnant revenue, the company held tight control over its expenditure. As a result, Licious saw a modest increase of 3.1% in its losses to Rs 500 crore in FY23 from Rs 485 crore in FY22. Caveat: We have excluded the cost associated with the change in the value of financial assets for both years, as it is non-cash in nature.
Licious’s ROCE and EBITDA margins stood at -40.05% and -55.45%, respectively. On a unit level, it spent Rs 1.75 to earn a rupee from its operations in FY23.
|Expense/₹ of Op Revenue||₹1.75||₹1.75|
The company recently claimed that it is close to achieving profitability (at EBITDA level). This, however, appears to be overly optimistic as the company may need more time to bring down a towering loss of Rs 500 crore to nil. Moreover, its collections haven’t grown in the first two quarters of the current financial year (FY24).
Licious turned unicorn in October 2021 and is backed by investors like Temasek, Vertex Ventures, Mayfield India, and 3one4 Capital. Licious has raised over $450 million to date. As per TheKredible, Mayfield India is the largest stakeholder in Licious with 14.69% followed by Vertex Ventures, 3one4 Capital, Temasek, and others.
There have been reports that Licious may have been looking for a fresh funding round. The company founders, however, claim they are well capitalised, and not planning on fundraising as they have more than $100 million in the bank. They (co-founders) also said that the firm will opt for public listing only after making profits for five consecutive years, which clearly seems like a daunting task at the moment.
It is obvious that for their claims, the firm has missed targets it set during its last funding round. It is equally obvious that the firm seems to have reached the limits of its first run with selling premium meat products to an Indian audience that, while being large, leaves very little for premium priced meats. Hiring for a larger market share has simply not worked for Licious, as seen in the enhanced costs versus growth over the past two years. For this writer, the failure to scale up the ready to eat products it introduced, particularly the Biryanis and more, is a surprise, and points to possible sourcing challenges as well.
News that Licious has cut back on the B2B segment offering is also no surprise, as that segment is the opposite of a high margin segment, as many have discovered already.
Licious risks falling into the category of startups that consistently surprised consumers with quality and service, but at the cost of huge losses, with no avenue to become a sustainable business. It still has the luxury of taking a long, hard look at every part of the business, and discover a second wind for the race ahead. One hopes it comes out a leaner, more resilient firm from such an exercise.