Logistics technology provider Körber has gained some heavyweight backing in its quest to build end-to-end supply chain execution capabilities, announcing today that the investment firm KKR has acquired a “significant minority stake” in Körber’s supply chain software business.
The new financial backing could allow the German-based firm to extend its suite of technologies from covering operations located inside the warehouse—such as warehouse management system (WMS), warehouse control system (WCS), robotics, and voice picking tools—to also connect with processes beyond the DC, such as order management system (OMS) and transportation management system (TMS) software.
Those capabilities will be increasingly important as businesses learn how to navigate a post-pandemic world and deal with challenges like a global labor crunch and extreme growth in areas like e-commerce, Chad Collins, CEO Software, Körber Business Area Supply Chain, said in a video briefing.
Under terms of the investment, Korber has now carved out the software piece of its supply chain arm and formed a separate joint venture. Korber itself remains as majority shareholder of that new business, and KKR becomes a minority owner. As part of that process, Korber also moved two businesses out of that software arm—including its SAP consulting and Blue Yonder implementation units—and formed a new consulting entity.
The terms of KKR’s investment were not disclosed, but Collins said that a critical part of the maneuver was providing enough new capital to allow the company to expand through mergers and acquisitions in the future. “We could do it organically but time-to-market constraints mean it makes more sense to do it via M&A as we continue to expand our supply chain execution suite,” Collins said.
In Korber’s view, shippers and retailers have a growing need for TMS capabilities as they try to create a more “fluid” relationship between their fulfillment activities, such as applying omnichannel strategies to ship customer orders from a variety of sources, including different warehouses, transportation modes, and retail stores. Companies that want to orchestrate supply chain maneuvers across different properties in that manner need to involve sources of information that stretch beyond the four walls of the traditional warehouse, Collins said.
Körber’s supply chain software business now employs some 1,300 employees, serving more than 4,200 customers with differentiated warehouse management solutions for varying operational complexities through software, voice, and robotics solutions, the company said.
KKR will now work with that unit to pursue both organic and inorganic growth strategies to expand its geographic footprint, accelerate the transition to software as a service (SaaS) platforms, automation, and robotics, and to help customers build warehouse automation and supply chain localization.
“A seamless and highly automated supply chain is business critical for enterprises of all sizes and we see significant growth potential in this market,” Christian Ollig, Head of KKR for DACH, and Jean-Pierre Saad, Head of Technology for Private Equity in EMEA at KKR, said in a joint release. “Körber’s supply chain software business is already one of the leading providers with excellent expertise and capabilities in WMS including robotics and voice, led by an industry-leading management team.”