The joint fund will invest in strategic areas like supply chain and sustainability for Tesco, Ahold Delhaize, Woolworths, Empire and Shoprite.

Ingrid Maes

Ingrid Maes, chief executive and chief investment officer, W23 Global. Image courtesy of W23 Global.

Grocery retailers Tesco, Ahold Delhaize, Woolworths Group, Empire Company and Shoprite have jointly launched a $125m corporate venture capital fund called W23 Global.

Registered in London, UK, the fund will be led by chief executive and chief investment officer Ingrid Maes (pictured), based in Sydney, Australia.

Maes has been the founder, managing director and chief investment officer of W23 Australia, the strategic investment arm of Woolworths Group, since 2019. Its portfolio includes meal kit provider Marley Spoon and remote health platform Eucalyptus.

The new initiative will have global coverage, taking advantage of each retailer’s main markets, including Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, Oceania and Africa.

UK-headquartered Tesco, Australia-based Woolworths and Empire, which owns Canadian supermarket chain Sobeys, have each committed $25m to W23, as have South African Shoprite and Dutch-Belgian Ahold Delhaize.

W23 Global will run for five years and the investments will be vetted by a committee that features the CEOs of the five wholesalers. The fund will target strategic areas for the corporates, such as supply chain, sustainable packaging and agricultural biodiversity.

W23 Global will connect portfolio companies to corporate limited partners for a larger customer base and resources.

“With five of the world’s leading grocery CEOs sitting on our investment committee and access to our broader ecosystem, our founders can test and develop their ideas quickly based on an accelerated understanding of retailers’ needs,” Maes said in a statement.

The news came in the wake of UK insurer Bupa launching $13m Bupa Ventures in Australia earlier this year.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.