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Walmart is in advanced talks to acquire online men’s retailer Bonobos

Source: Bonobos

Walmart's acquisition streak under new e-commerce chief Marc Lore continues.

The world's largest brick-and-mortar retailer is in advanced discussions to acquire Bonobos, a 10-year-old men's fashion retailer based in New York City. Sources say the two sides have agreed on a price — which couldn't immediately be learned — and that the deal is in its final due diligence stages.

The deal would mark at least the fourth e-commerce acquisition by Walmart digital chief Marc Lore since Walmart acquired his company Jet.com seven months ago. Those include women's online retailer ModCloth, outdoor gear seller MooseJaw and online shoe site ShoeBuy. Lore also bought online furniture retailer Hayneedle while Jet.com was still independent.

The largest of the Walmart deals under Lore was $70 million, but sources say Bonobos will go for more than that. The company has between $100 million and $150 million in annual revenue and is in better financial shape than ModCloth, which sold for less than 1x revenue.

For a retail business like this, it wouldn't be unusual to fetch between 1x and 2x revenue. Bonobos was valued at $300 million, according to PitchBook, when it raised $55 million in 2014.

Bonobos was founded in 2007 by CEO Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly as an e-commerce shop selling dress pants designed to fit athletic men.

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Since then, the company has expanded into dress shirts, suits and outerwear, and started to sell through Nordstrom, which is an investor, in addition to its own website. Dress shirts start at around $98 and suits at $550.

Over the last few years, Bonobos has also opened more than 30 brick-and-mortar showrooms, called Guideshops, where customers can get fitted and place orders to be delivered to their home.

It has raised more than $125 million from investors like Forerunner Ventures, Lightspeed and Mousse Partners in part to fuel this expansion, and had been in discussions over the last few months to raise more.

But it had been challenging for Bonobos to find new investment terms that made sense for all parties because it had already raised a lot of money for a retail company of its size.

On the surface, the Walmart and Bonobos brands make little sense together. But Lore has been trying to buy digital-native companies with strong brands that appeal to a different demographic than Walmart does, and ones that have the potential to be healthy standalone businesses with Walmart's backing.

"We're behind," he said at Recode's Code Commerce event in March. "We need to catch up."

The deals have also been intended to bring new digital leadership into Walmart — the CEOs of the acquired companies have been staying in place — and to increase the selection of goods on Jet.com, with bonus points for branded goods that can't be found on other sites, like Amazon.

By Jason Del Rey, Recode.net.

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