MBE Worldwide buys majority stake in last-mile platform GEL Proximity
Fast-growing third-party shipping and fulfilment firm MBE Worldwide has acquired a majority stake in fellow Italian firm GEL Proximity – a platform dedicated to proximity logistics – to strengthen its position as a global commerce and logistics platform for businesses.
The news comes off the back of a busy and successful 2021 for MBE, which saw the group conclude several strategic acquisitions and close the 2021 financial year with €1.01 billion in system-wide sales and €24 billion of gross merchandise value traded through its PrestaShop e-commerce platform.
Headquartered in Italy, like MBE, GEL Proximity provides a tech platform which is dedicated to last mile logistics. The company specialises in “proximity logistics” and its B2B platform connects e-shops, fulfilment centres, operators and road carriers with last mile delivery services. Its software acts as a “tech connector” which currently manages around 30,000 collection points and lockers owned by different logistics partners, allowing consumers to choose among different proximity services.
From idea to product
GEL Proximity began life as an idea in the Polytechnic University of Milan’s Polihub innovation incubator. In 2019, the idea was turned to reality when it triumphed in the hub’s innovation challenge “Switch2Product” (S2P). S2P is a program which enhances innovate solutions and business ideas. In 2020 GEL Proximity officially became a spin-off company from the Polytechnic University of Milan.
Alongside enhancing last mile logistics services, GEL Proximity also aims to improve the sustainable growth of the e-commerce sector. According to the firm, the use of collection points and lockers, rather than home delivery, guarantees both first time delivery and reduces the number of delivery journeys as more packages are delivered to one location. Both factors have “considerable benefits on CO2 emissions,” GEL noted.
“The journey we experienced at GEL Proximity is the result of an entrepreneurial idea built with Damiano Frosi and with the support of Politecnico di Milano, Polihub and the Digital Innovation Observatories which had a fundamental role in our path to succeed, together with Europromotion, a company controlled by Italia Distribuzioni, the largest Italian company operating in proximity marketing,” said Lorenzo Maggioni, CEO and Co-founder of GEL Proximity.
“The last mile represents today the most delicate and expensive phase of the supply chain and our commitment with MBE will be to facilitate access to logistics proximity services through innovative and highly customizable technology,” he added.
For MBE, the acquisition represents a strategic step in its path to growth. The two companies will now work together to develop and scale up GEL Proximity’s platform and technology across the MBE global footprint, which includes more than 2,900 service centres, which operate under the brands Mail Boxes Etc., PostNet, Pack & Send, AlphaGraphics and Multicopy, in 53 countries.
MBE is a privately-owned Italian-based company offering third-party shipping (mostly express courier deliveries), fulﬁlment, print and marketing solutions. Overall, the company served almost one million business customers in FY 2021. Furthermore, it expanded its global platform into three new countries – Bulgaria, Jordan, and Timor-Leste – and opened 208 new service centres.
In 2021 MBE successfully concluded several strategic acquisitions to further expand its services in e-commerce and the international market. The acquisitions included PrestaShop – a leading e-commerce platform in Europe and Latin America; Pack & Send, an Australian courier and freight reseller; Dutch company Multicopy, which offers print and marketing services through a network of 53 branches; and Mail Boxes Etc. in the UK, enabling MBE to establish a direct presence in the UK & Ireland.
“Our strategic goal consists in building an integrated platform – both physical and digital – to support SMBs growth,” said Paolo Fiorelli, Chairman and CEO of MBE Worldwide. “Combining a wide network of service centres with one of the most successful e-commerce platforms in the market [PrestaShop], positions MBE as a unique player in the global landscape. This acquisition represents a further strengthening of our commercial offer for business customers enabling them to serve even better their final customers.”