Global Fashion Group plans to raise €300M in Frankfurt IPO

The ongoing evolution of the startup factory known as Rocket Internet continues apace. Today, the group of regional e-commerce fashion sites incubated in the Berlin outfit that eventually got spun out under the Global Fashion Group umbrella — Zalora, Dafifi, The Iconic and La Moda — announced that it is planning a public listing on the Frankfurt stock exchange. It is expecting to raise €300 million ($336 million) by selling newly issued shares in its IPO.

Part of the hope is that the funding and IPO will help the group continue building out its presence in emerging markets — when it was in growth mode, one of Rocket’s key strategies was building e-commerce “clones” in developing markets to tap into early growth ahead of large global brands like Amazon expanding and competing against it.

Emerging markets are still growing at a time when growth in more developed markets in regions like the US and Western Europe has levelled off. GFG estimates that the total value of fashion and lifestyle in its operating regions totalled €320 billion in 2018.

“We are excited about this next step for GFG,” Christoph Barchewitz and Patrick Schmidt, the co-CEOs, said in a joint statement. “It is still very early days for fashion and lifestyle e-commerce in our markets. Today, most of our markets have less e-commerce adoption than Europe had 10 years ago. As consumer behaviour migrates towards e-commerce, GFG’s well-known consumer platforms, local teams, and fashion-specific operational infrastructure put us at the forefront of this growth opportunity. An IPO will allow us to keep investing in our end-to-end customer proposition, further strengthening our position as the leading fashion and lifestyle destination in growth markets.”

We’ve asked for an estimated valuation of the GFG, and we’ll update this post as we learn more. Historically, the group has had some ups and downs. One round of funding in 2016 came at a $1.1 billion valuation — but that was down on a valuation of $3.5 billion a year before. Several of the most unprofitable operations have also been closed or downsized over the years.

In the meantime, GFG is disclosing some numbers ahead of the listing:

● It notes that its active customer base is now 11.2 million, up from 8.9 million in 2016.
● NMV grew from €1,076 million to €1,453 million between 2016 and 2018.
● Revenues were €1,156 million in 2018, up from €887 million in 2016.
● GFG is still operating at a net loss but individual operations are now break-even on an Adjusted EBITDA basis. These include its Latin American operations and Australia.
● For the year 2018, Adjusted EBITDA margin (post the adoption of IFRS 16) was (4.3)%.
● Following a strong first quarter, GFG expects NMV to grow by 20-23% (on an organic basis)
to reach €1.7bn to €1.8bn in 2019.
● Further, the Company expects to generate more than €1.3 billion in revenue and to make additional progress towards EBITDA break-even in 2019.

DTC (direct to consumer) has become one of the most important trends in online commerce in the last several years, with a number of brands bypassing traditional retailers and leveraging their own websites, social media and other channels to find and sell to customers.

The companies that make up the GFG have been built in part on that trend: consumers have become more open to hearing about and trusting new brands in recent years, and that has helped GFG’s companies establish themselves in the market, collectively selling more than 40 of their own fashion and lifestyle brands (and reaching economies of scale by selling them across their various markets) alongside 10,000 global, local and own fashion brands to a market of over 1 billion consumers.

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