Sweetome Group acquires CityHome and iYOUJIA.com

China: Sweetome Group, part of Chinese online home-sharing unicorn Tujia, has purchased 100 per cent shares in domestic vacation rental startups, CityHome and iYOUJIA.com.

The latest acquisitions will help to consolidate Sweetome’s position in China’s burgeoning rental market, given that the Group is also receiving a strategic investment from online classifieds platform 58.com. The funding was announced by China Renaissance, which served as the exclusive financial advisor for the deal.

Tujia and Sweetome Group co-founder Luo Jun said in a statement: “The two acquisitions will further strengthen Sweetome Group’s business layout in the urban homestay market, and provide more abundant and high-quality brands for householders and consumers to choose from.”

Jun added that the acquisitions would promote “the chain operation and standardisation” of the shared accommodation market in China.

Sweetome Group, which launched in 2011, purchased the startups in a move to attract new investors, including Airbnb and Nasdaq-listed Chinese online travel agency Trip.com.

Home-sharing brand CityHome, which is headquartered in Beijing, closed a $5 million Series A round last year with Airbnb. It provides home design, decoration, cleaning and maintenance services in first- and second-tier cities of properties in China before hosts list their homes on CityHome’s platform.

Meanwhile, iYOUJIA.com launched last February as a boutique homestay brand operating under Chinese online short-term rental company Mayi.com. The startup is led by Mayi.com CEO Shen Zhiqiang and Trip.com co-founder James Liang Jianzhang [Trip.com was formerly known as Ctrip].

Last June, iYOUJIA.com raised a multi-million U.S. dollar investment in an angel round from Trip.com, Tujia.com and 58 Industry Fund.

China’s burgeoning home-sharing market, which was valued at 16.5 billion yuan ($2.35 billion) in 2018 in a report by the National Information Center, could now be gaining at least two new players in an increasingly crowded but fruitful marketplace. The Chinese market is now projected to grow by 50 per cent over the next three years.

The country’s home-sharing market is currently dominated by the likes of Tujia, Meituan Minsu, Alibaba’s Xiaozhu and Airbnb in that order of domestic power.

Sweetome Group currently manages over 56,000 apartments, private houses, villas and hotels across five sub-brands including Sweetome, JiaTing, HiVilla, GOMO and WOGO, according to the company website.

For more information, visit the Sweetome Group website here.