Operating in a market that is expected to grow at double-digit rates for the next five years to reach $9.1 billion by 2026 provides plenty of room for investment.
Exotec is the latest to benefit, closing a $335 million series D funding round led by the Growth Equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management with follow-on investments from 83North and Dell Technologies Capital.
The funding values Exotec at $2 billion. The company’s last funding round was a $90 million round in September 2020. 83North led that funding along with involvement from Dell Technologies Capital, Iris Capital and Breega. Since that time, Exotec has doubled its revenue and tripled its customer base.
“Following the most significant supply chain disruptions of the modern era, there’s only room left for innovation,” said Romain Moulin, co-founder and CEO of Exotec. “While the entire logistics sector is fraught with uncertainty, one of the most prevalent challenges is ongoing labor shortages. Exotec pioneers a new path: elegant collaboration between human and robot workers that delivers warehouse productivity in a lasting, far more sustainable way.”
Exotec makes warehouse robotics to assist operators with fulfillment operations. It employs more than 300 around the world. With the new funding, Exotec expects to double its global headcount by 2023 and hire 500 research and development engineers by 2025.
“Exotec is well-positioned to seize the enormous warehouse automation market opportunity both because of its global presence and strong track record of success with industry-leading retailers and brands,” said Christian Resch, managing director in the Growth Equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management. “Exotec builds scalable solutions that are an accelerant for change and supports business growth despite market disruptions.”
The past year was a big one for Exotec, with deals to deploy its technology with several top brands in the retail industry and supply chain companies including Geodis. In April, the company announced a deal with Gap to deploy its Skypod robots.
Rudi Lueg, managing director of North America for Exotec, told Modern Shipper at the time that Gap would test the Skypod robotics solution in the restocking process for returns.
The Skypod is a “goods-to-person” 3D robot featuring the ability to move horizontally as well as up and down on shelving racks stacked as high as 36 feet, allowing retailers and e-merchants to increase their storage capacity by up to five times, the company says.
Lueg said a robot can speed the picking process about fivefold, but when it comes to returns, that speed quickens to as much as 10 times faster. Exotec’s solution also tracks the item through the process so if an online order comes in for the item and it hasn’t been returned to stock yet, the picker is notified an item is waiting to be returned to stock so a sale is not lost.
In May, footwear retailer Ariat and sporting goods retailer Decathlon announced their deployments of the Skypod. Ariat added an unspecified number of robots in its Erlanger, Kentucky, omnichannel fulfillment center while Decathlon planned to install 55 Skypods across 30 locations, including at its primary fulfillment center in Montreal. The installations were expected to be complete by December. The robots are expected to handle 8 million items per year.
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“Exotec warehouse robotics have transformed our logistics operations in multiple markets around the world, most recently in our Montreal fulfillment center,” said Richard Tremblay, logistics manager at Decathlon Canada. “We value the unique combination of speed, performance and flexibility that allows us to provide leading service to our customers. We look forward to a long-term partnership with Exotec.”
In total, Exotec signed eight large enterprise customers in 2021.
Exotec also introduced its Skypicker technology in 2021. Skypicker is an articulated arm able to move 600 items per hour to support high-volume fulfillment and returns.