Recruit Holdings is becoming an increasingly visible force in travel and hospitality. First, the venture arm of the staffing conglomerate invested in vacation rental platform Tripping.com. Now the company has stepped up massively with a nearly Euro 200 million stock purchase of German restaurant reservation site Quandoo.
So why would a staffing company spend so much money on a restaurant reservation site?
Well, Recruit may just have one of the most untraditional M&A strategies around, as it pursues opportunities in 10 verticals where its sales expertise can improve the bottom line of its acquisition targets. Revealed in its disclosures related to the sale is one slide that explains it all:
More understandable is the equal focus on the company's ability to increase organic traffic due to its own SEO and SEM abilities.
Specifically to Qandoo and the European online reservations space, this is how Recruit feels it will add value to its purchase:
The company also revealed in the announcement that it aims to also be tops in the "Marketing Media" business, which — at least in hospitality — seems to apply for businesses where consumers seek out middlemen to complete a transaction (such as restaurant and vacation rental reservations):
The Company has as its long term vision to become the No. 1 group in global matching platform with respect to all business areas of the Group including the Marketing Media business by approximately 2030, in addition to becoming the No. 1 in Global HR business by approximately 2020.
In order to achieve this goal and to acquire and expand new business, the Company will proactively pursue the acquisition of new businesses and expansion of business through M&As in Japan and overseas based on the stable cash inflow from existing domestic businesses. This transaction shall be a part of initiatives related to Lifestyle operations including travel, dining and beauty.
Regardless, this is an odd match for a company that aims to be the top global recruitment platform in the world, especially as it continues to purchase businesses outside of that space that also happen to be consumer-facing. Perhaps the thinking is that these consumers could eventually be brought onto the platform, or that the businesses using these consumer platforms could eventually be targeted for staffing help. It just doesn't make that much sense, and is an intriguing strategy to monitor for success.
The company will also be facing stiff headwinds if it decides to tackle the United States, with Zomato's purchase of Urban Spoon and Priceline's dominant OpenTable. In Europe, the company will also face Yelp's growing appetite, which could soon turn to expansion of its own proprietary SeatMe technology.
For more details revealed in its copious disclosures of the sale, check out the full announcement here.
NB: Best seller image courtesy Shutterstock.