La Belle Vie raises $28 million to build an online supermarket from scratch

French startup La Belle Vie announced that it has raised a $28.2 million (€25 million) Series B round led by Left Lane and Quadrille Capital, with existing investor Capagro also participating. The company operates an online grocery store in the Paris area.

Online grocery delivery services and so-called quick-commerce startups are quite trendy. In fact, it has become an incredibly crowded space. In Paris alone, people can order groceries from Cajoo, Gorillas, Flink, Getir, Zapp and Gopuff (following Dija’s acquisition) — I’m probably forgetting a name or two.

But La Belle Vie has been around since 2015. It has acquired quite a lot of experience when it comes to logistics, inventory management and unit economics.

La Belle Vie originally started with a focus on fresh products, such as vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and cheese. You could order anything you would find in a local outdoor food market. And it’s true that supermarket chains have often neglected that segment with their online order service.

Over time, La Belle Vie has expanded its offering with packaged goods and many of the items that you would find in a supermarket. The company has signed a partnership with Système U.

In many ways, La Belle Vie feels like an online supermarket. There are offers and an editorialized selection of products. For instance, you can buy 12 oysters for €4.99 right now. This is the kind of offer you would find in the central aisle of a supermarket.

Right now, La Belle Vie offers 17,000 products, including 4,000 different fresh products. The company can deliver your order in less than 3 hours across the Ile-de-France region. It has 500 employees and processes 15,000 orders per week.

While it feels perfectly fine to wait a couple of hours to get your groceries, La Belle Vie isn’t standing still. The company wants to compete directly with quick-commerce startups. It has launched a new brand called Bam Courses.

The new service is limited to Paris and a selection of 2,500 products. Orders are dispatched from one of La Belle Vie’s seven distribution hubs in Paris and the company tries to deliver orders within 15 minutes.

"I am very proud of the path [co-founder] Alban [Wienkoop] and I have taken. Since day one, we have been obsessed with profitability, with extremely tight control of our margins and supply chain, but also with the social aspect, with the employment of over 600 people on permanent contracts. La Belle Vie is a wonderful human adventure and we are thrilled to be supported in our growth by international and French investors that are as prestigious as they are experienced,” co-founder and CEO Paul Lê said in a statement.

Before today’s funding round, the company had raised a $6.2 million (€5.5 million) round in 2018 and and a $13.1 million (€11.6 million) round in 2020. Up next, the startup plans to expand to other major cities in France.

While Getir and Gopuff have been around for a while, most quick-commerce startups have been founded in the past year or two. The fact that La Belle Vie has been around for a while is a clear advantage as it has gained some experience over the past few years.

There’s a big question mark in the instant grocery delivery space. What happens if VC firms stop financing gigantic funding rounds, like Flink’s recent $750 million round? It’s hard to predict whether customers will stick around once promo codes dry up and service quality goes down. With its slow and steady approach, La Belle Vie has more visibility on its customer base and future performance.