Worldview: Africa’s E-Commerce Giants Hit Turbulence


🇰🇪 Kenyan e-commerce company Copia goes into administration. Copia Global, the parent company of the mass market e-tailer that raised $123 million in venture funding, has appointed KPMG to manage the administration process, putting it at risk of shutting down. Citing “uncertainties ahead”, company CEO Tim Steel wrote in an internal memo seen by TechCabal that “it is very likely that there will be a reduction in our workforce, and it is possible that the payment of salaries could be at risk.” Layoffs at the e-tailer selling everything from fashion and beauty products to food and electronics could affect over 1,000 employees. Competitor firms on the African continent have also been struggling. At Jumia, the plan to rescue the Nigeria-founded pan-African e-commerce giant has resulted in improved sales but the company still reported a loss in the latest quarter. [TechCabal, TechCrunch]

🇿🇦 Parent of South African e-tailer Takealot taps new CEO. Cape Town-based Naspers and its Amsterdam-listed international investment arm Prosus have named Fabricio Bloisi as chief executive of the Prosus and Naspers Group, starting in July. The Brazilian entrepreneur, founder of Prosus-owned Brazil-based Movile and former CEO of Latin American food delivery company iFood, replaces the group’s interim chief executive Ervin Tu, who served after last year’s departure of Bob van Dijk. Prosus has a portfolio of around 80 assets across 100 markets and is the biggest single investor in Tencent, the Chinese group behind super-app WeChat. Internet giant Naspers owns South African companies including multi-category e-commerce giant Takealot, fashion e-tailer Superbalist, PayU and Media24. [BoF Inbox, Financial Times, Reuters]

🇮🇳 Global prices of Indian lab-grown diamonds plummet 45%. Overproduction has contributed to the crash seen in the 2024 financial year. Though exports also declined as recently as April, demand has been rising domestically as gold prices increased. “Any further decline in [lab-grown diamond] prices will lead to severe losses for…manufacturers and will not be sustainable,” said Pooja Sheth Madhavan, managing director of Limelight Diamonds, a chain with 50 stores across India. [Economic Times]

🇨🇳 China’s garment and textile exports rise slightly in the Jan-Apr period. The country’s exports of textiles, garments and accessories rose 0.57 percent to $89.836 billion in the first four months of 2024. Garment exports remained flat and textile exports rose 1.2 percent. [Fibre2Fashion]

🇯🇵 Rakuten partners with eBay to sell used Japanese fashion in the US. The Japanese e-commerce giant and the US marketplace started the tie-up on May 8 by trialling several vendors on Rakuten’s second-hand goods unit Rakuma, aiming to capitalise on the effect of the yen’s near 34-year low against the dollar and global cost-of-living pressures. “To say something is ‘used in Japan’ gives some immediate value [elsewhere because]…second-hand goods [from Japan are generally] in quite good shape,” said Rakuma general manager Kenichiro Hasegawa. [Reuters]

🇨🇳 Chinese app Kuaishou sees quarterly e-commerce GMV surge 28%. The Beijing-based, Hong Kong-listed short video and livestreaming platform said annual gross merchandise value growth for Q1 2024 amounted to 288.1 billion yuan ($40.33 billion). The number of monthly active e-commerce buyers during the period increased by 22.4 percent to 126 million. While competitors Douyin and Xiaohongshu are the focus for many international brands’ marketing and sales efforts, Kuaishou remains popular in cities that are tier-two and below. [Jing Daily, BoF]

🇮🇳 Indian parent company of Indya and FabAlley raises $6 million. High Street Essentials, the firm behind the two womenswear brands, has raised 50 crore rupees ($6 million) in equity and debt infusion in a funding round led by Sangita Jindal, chairperson of JSW Foundation, with participation from SRF Group, Krishna Bodanapu of Cyient Technologies and Timmy Sarna from Pure Home Living. The capital will be used to help Indya, which has collaborations with local designers such as Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna and Varun Bahl, expand further into the premium occasion and wedding wear market. [Economic Times]

🇨🇳 Dazed Media partners with Huasheng Media to launch Another Man China. The Chinese edition of the new monthly will feature both locally produced content and content from the UK edition. Huasheng, which is the partner for the Chinese editions of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Nylon, and Wallpaper, has appointed company founder and CEO Feng Chuxuan as group editor of Another Man China with Tian Zhiwei (Nate Tian) as editorial director and Zhou Xiangyu (Xander Zhou) as fashion director. The China market licence of namesake Dazed magazine was previously held by Yoho but it ceased publishing during the pandemic. [BoF Inbox]

🇮🇳 Parent of Indian beauty brand Mamaearth acquires Cosmogenesis Labs. Honasa Consumer is buying the Maharashtra-based research and development company specialising in natural and organic cosmetics, for an undisclosed amount. “As part of the transaction, we will also be acquiring a bunch of the formulation expertise, R&D labs as well as a nano manufacturing facility,” said Honasa Consumer co-founder and CEO Varun Alagh, addint that Cosmogenesis founder Rohini Manoj will become vice president of R&D for the firm. In addition to Mamaearth, Gurugram-based Honasa currently operates brands The Derma Co, Bblunt, Ayuga, Aqualogica, Dr Sheth’s and Staze. [Economic Times]

🇪🇬 Egyptian suppliers to global perfume companies linked to child labour. Jasmine flowers picked by children have been used by perfume suppliers used by L’Oréal and Estée Lauder brands, according to a BBC investigation that followed families in Egypt in 2023 picking jasmine for local factories. These factories extract jasmine oil from the flowers and supply it to international fragrance houses such as Givaudan and Firmenich, which beauty conglomerates to produce their scents. Children as young as five work picking flowers throughout the night, and earn on average as little as $1 a day. [BoF]

🇮🇳 India’s Jaipur Watch Company raises more capital. The Rajasthan-based luxury watch brand named after the state capital has secured 2.4 crore rupees ($289,000) in funding from investors Nirav Jogani of Lemon Funds, Jignesh Shah of Dev Diamonds and Lucky Jewellery to expand marketing initiatives and its retail footprint beyond the current network of five stores and three new ones planned for this year. Founder Gaurav Mehta said the company raised 3.5 crore rupees to date and is in talks to raise a larger round of 5.5 – 6 crore. [Economic Times]

🇨🇳 Chinese fragrance brand Documents shutters another store. The company has confirmed that its first mono-brand store on Middle Huaihai Road in Shanghai has closed, following the December closure of the Chengdu IFS branch. Founded in 2021 by Meng Zhaoran, Documents has in recent years secured funding from Ushopal Group, Shanghai Meicifang Investment (L’Oréal’s investment arm in China) and Cathay Consumer Co-creation Fund (co-established by Cathay Capital, Kering, L’Oréal and Pernod Ricard). [Jing Daily, BoF]

🇮🇳 Indian jeweller Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri posts 7.5% profit rise in Q4. The Mumbai-based chain of gold and diamond jewellery founded in 1864 with over 30 stores nationwide has reported consolidated net profit of 126.1 million rupees ($1.5 million) for the quarter ended. March 31, up from 117.3 million rupees a year earlier. [Economic Times]

🌏 Taiwanese luxury resale firm PopChill secures $1.3 million investment. The additional capital brings the total funds raised in the Pre-A+ funding round to $3.1 million. The new investors joining this round, Top Taiwan Venture Capital and the Taiwan National Development Fund, join earlier participants including 500 Global, Acorn Pacific, ITIC, AVA Angels Fund, Acorn Pacific Ventures, and Darwin Ventures. PopChill co-founder Andy Kuo said that the company will use the funding to further growth in Hong Kong and enter Singapore. [BoF Inbox, Retail In Asia]

🇮🇳 Indian footwear retail giant Metro Brands sees profits more than double. The company has reported a 126.3 percent increase in year-on-year net profit to 155.57 crore rupees ($18.7 million) for the fourth quarter of 2024. The Delhi-based company founded in 1955 now operating over 830 stores nationwide sells inhouse brands like Metro Shoes, Mochi and Walkway as well as partner brands such as Vans, Crocs, Fila and Fitflop. [Economic Times]

🇰🇪 Kenya’s Vivo enters the US market with Atlanta store. The Nairobi-based fashion brand’s store was unveiled last week. Parent company Vivo Fashion Group was founded by Wandia Gichuru and Anne Marie Burugu in 2011 and currently has 26 stores in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda with over 360 employees selling its namesake brand, Safari, Zoya and others. Last year, Gichuru raised $1 million for ShopZetu, a multi-brand e-commerce platform she co-founded. [Semafor, BoF]

🇮🇳 Prathyusha Agarwal to head Indian e-tailer Flipkart’s Shopsy. The former chief business officer of edtech firm Byju has been named vice president and head of Shopsy, a platform launched as a social commerce app by Walmart-owned Flipkart in 2021 before becoming a low-priced ecommerce rival to Meesho and Amazon Bazaar. [Economic Times]

🇨🇳 Versace taps Chinese singer Cai Xukun as brand ambassador. The Italian luxury brand has partnered with the celebrity, a former face for Prada, Tag Hauer and De Beers in China. With over 38 million followers on Weibo alone, Cai has remained popular with some fans despite a scandal which saw him accused of forcing a former sexual partner of having an abortion, a claim he has denied. [BoF Inbox]

🇮🇩 Indonesia anti-trust agency probes Singapore’s Shopee and Lazada. Local authorities are investigating the Indonesian units of two Singapore-based regional e-commerce giants: Sea Ltd-owned Shopee and Alibaba-owned Lazada, over alleged competition rule breaches. The firms compete with local e-tailers in the market such as GoTo Group’s Tokopedia and Bukalapak. [The Straits Times]

🇨🇳 Victoria’s Secret names Chinese actress Tian Xiwei as ambassador. The American lingerie brand has partnered with the star of TV series like “Romance on the Farm” and “New Life Begins” to endorse its products. [Jing Daily]

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