Esprit backs electronic price label firm

Esprit Capital Partners, a technology-focused venture firm, will lead the latest $20 million funding round for ZBD, a QinetiQ spin-out that makes electronic labels for retailers.

UK venture firm Esprit Capital Partners is leading a $20 million (€15 million) funding round for ZBD, an electronic price tag maker.

Esprit and UK-based fund manager Lansdowne Partners are both investing in the company for the first time, while Prelude, QinetiQ, Dow Chemical Company and TTP Capital Partners, who have all backed ZBD in previous funding rounds, are re-investing in the business.

ZBD develops a kind of electronic “paper” which can be used by retail stores to display pricing and promotional information about its products. Unlike standard paper labels, these can be updated wirelessly, allowing the store to keep its information more current, while the labels consume no power except during the updating process.

ZBD, which was spun out of UK government research group QinetiQ in 2000, believes the labels will improve stores’ efficiency and reduce waste. Its “electronic point of purchase technology” has already completed successful in-store pilots at major retailers such as Tesco, and is now set to be distributed globally.

Clive Mayne, chief executive of ZBD said: “We have worked with some of the best known names in retail and as a result, we have built a solution where the business benefits speak for themselves. We’re now in a strong position to start reaping commercial benefits and this new round of funding gives us the platform to deliver our growth plans on a global level.”

Esprit’s recent investments include Tribold, a software maker for communication service providers, and Where are You Now?, a social networking website chaired by Lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman. It was recently voted as the best venture firm in Europe by PEO readers in our annual poll.