North American grocery delivery service Instacart planned a recruitment drive and fanned the flames of speculation an IPO was closer to happening, after swelling its coffers by $265 million in a fresh funding round.

The company stated a 50 per cent increase in staff numbers during H1 2021 was one of several plans for the fresh capital. Other target areas are improvements to a system connecting “customers and retailers”; a packaged goods advertising service; and an enterprise-focused unit which coordinates e-commerce methods.

Existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, D1 Capital Partners, Fidelity Management and Research Company, and T. Rowe Price Associates contributed the latest finance, which Instacart said increased its valuation to $39 billion.

Financial Times reported this compared with a $17.8 billion valuation when Instacart completed a funding round in November 2020. The newspaper added the app tops the tables of grocery delivery services in the US and asserted the latest financing advanced plans for a “long-anticipated” IPO.

Instacart noted Covid-19 (coronavirus) boosted its business by changing shopping habits.

But it highlighted the grocery sector, in particular, was “still in the early stages” of digital transformation in North America.

In 2020 it looked to cash in on this transformation by adding “more than 200 new retailers and more than 15,000” store locations, and expanding its same-day service to a range of categories beyond groceries.