According to Thomas Unikauskis, CEO, of Smart Brands Laboratory: “Our successful debt capital raising means we will be able to build on the strong e-commerce growth Smart Brands has experienced in the past year due to surging international demand, particularly for our household kitchenware products, during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. We have hired more than 50 people in the past 12 months, mostly in Vilnius, and this is the largest expansion in the team since we were founded just three years ago. Smart Brands Laboratory now plans to double our brand portfolio to 10 by the end of this year, from five currently, and we expect to triple our sales revenues by the end of 2022.”
Smart Brands Laboratory was founded in 2018 and is an e-commerce technology company that employs data analysis and proprietary algorithms to develop and sell consumer products in the US, Canada, major European countries and other parts of the world. The company owns brands, such as the Uno Casa and TofuBud kitchenware labels, in the household segment, as well as in sports, leisure, and other product categories.
Smart Brands is planning to raise a total of EUR 6.0 million in debt financing this year and around a third of that amount was secured in the first bond issuance in April through an investment by the Orion Private Debt Fund I. The Fund is managed by Vilnius-headquartered Orion Asset Management, which supported and structured the debt issuance, and it will be authorized to represent the interests of all bondholders.
The bond issuer is the Snowball digital transformation and technology platform established by Zabolis Partners, the Lithuanian-based investment group. Snowball includes Smart Brands Laboratory in its portfolio, as well as investments in EdTech through the digital leaning tools and content company TAMO and interests in High Tech via the Brolis Group.
“The Snowball bond issuance for Smart Brands is a mixed and atypical financing transaction in the Lithuanian market, because in combines mezzanine and senior financing debt components. This investment combination is ideal for us because it spreads our risk across the capital structure and we also get further diversification in our portfolio by investing in the new area of e-commerce. The diversified nature of the Snowball portfolio across sectors, as the issuer, also helps spread our risks further,” Benas Poderis, Head of Investment Management at Orion Asset Management.
Jurgis Rubaževičius, Partner at Zabolis Partners, concluded: “The focus of Zabolis Partners’ Snowball investment platform on the digital transformation of economies and the diverse associated technologies that are underpinning this rapidly emerging new paradigm in the markets, is proving to be a winning strategy with investors. The success of our first bond issue in financing Smart Brands’ strong growth in the e-commerce consumer tech space is compelling proof of concept.”
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