Baidu Waimai, China’s third-largest takeaway service, announced today that it’s rebranded as Star.Ele, more than one year after being acquired by its major rival Ele.me, our sister site TechNode Chinese is reporting.
Retaining a former red color scheme for its new logo, Star.Ele will run as a sub-brand of Ele.me to offer premium food and local services from selected vendors. Wang Jingfeng, vice president of Ele.me, will be appointed as CEO of the new unit.
For over a year after the acquisition, Baidu Waimai has been operating under its old brand. But rumors about its rebranding prevails while Ele.me promised to continue operating the two brands separately during the takeover.
The merger between Baidu Waimai and Ele.me, two of China’s top food delivery platforms, wasn’t a smooth one with the former has seen both internal and external turmoil during the transitional period.
The rebrand comes among a series of structural adjustment of Ele.me, which itself has been taken over by Alibaba which bought the remaining shares in the company in April this year. Following the new retail trend, Alibaba announced that it has merged two of its food delivery services Ele.me and Koubei to a newly consolidated unit of Alibaba Local Service Company. In August, the company announced it has raised $3 billion for the unit alongside SoftBank.
Baidu Waimai’s rebranding represents a footnote for the changing landscape of China’s online food delivery industry, which shifts from tripartite confrontation among Tencent-backed Meituan, Alibaba-backed Ele.me and Baidu Waimai to head-on battle between the first two.
In terms of positioning, going after a higher-end market to diversify user base is a wise strategy in China, where food safety is a rising concern. As a leading player in the market, Ele.me has come under scrutiny in 2016 for allowing unqualified works to delivery potentially unsanitary food to customers. Meituan faces similar problems. In May this year, the three online food delivery platforms have launched their own investigation against unqualified food vendors, blacklisting thousands of vendors each.