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Worldstores attracts 10m investment

Two entrepreneurs aiming to build an “Amazon for furniture” have secured £10m to expand what is already among the UK’s largest ranges of home and garden products.

Online retailer WorldStores has been backed by French firm Serena Capital, as well as existing investors Balderton Capital and Advent Venture Partners.

The latest investment takes the total raised by WorldStores to more than £20m, and will allow the Twickenham-based business to add to the 500,000 product lines that it already sells.

The company, which was founded by internet experts Joe Murray and Richard Tucker in 2007, is projecting sales of £75m this year.

Mr Murray said he is optimistic that the business will be in a position to plan a flotation over the next few years as it becomes the “leading online retailer for everything for the home”. The company relies on technology which links it up with 800 suppliers around the country to communicate orders and the levels of stock each one is holding.

WorldStores picks up the goods from the suppliers using third party carriers and delivers items to consumers. Most of its products are delivered the day after being purchased.

“What we offer is huge choice, fast delivery and service. We know you can’t post a sofa through a letterbox and it’s a big deal for customers to stay at home and wait. We’re working on being able to offer two-hour delivery windows,” said Mr Murray. WorldStores has developed an unusual business model which sees the central WorldStores website acting as an umbrella for around 60 niche ones, which range from HammocksWorld to DogKennelsWorld.

The products the company sells, and the names of the associated websites, are dictated by what people search for, Mr Murray said.

For example, TrampolinesWorld became OutdoorToysWorld based on analysis of customers’ search behaviour and purchasing patterns.

The company claims that it is already the largest UK online retailer of home and garden products and its range is “more than 15 times greater than that carried by [our] leading traditional competitors”.

Marc Fournier, managing partner of Serena Capital, said that the French investor had taken a stake in the British company because it was “most impressed with… its ability to become a national leader in such a short period of time”.

Source : James Hurley - The Telegraph

01 June 2013
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