May 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Local talent

(Page 3 of 3)

Missguided plans to launch a mobile-optimized site in 2012 and to expand internationally by launching e-commerce sites in the United States, France and Germany by June.

Sapato brings the Zappos model to Russia – Sapato.ru

With its focus on customer service, shoes and accessories, e-retailer Sapato.ru (No. 359) is often considered to be the Zappos.com of Russia, as it offers free shipping, free returns and 24/7 customer service call center availability. Like Amazon-owned Zappos in the United States, the retailer has robust search and filtering options on its web site, multiple images for each product and customer reviews. Sapato.ru also has an iPad app.

In the 18 months since its launch in 2010, Sapato.ru has raised about $20 million in three rounds of funding from Fast Lane Ventures and others. Much of the financing was used for marketing and to expand product offerings, the company says. The retailer now sells around 10,000 shoe varieties for men, women and children.

In February, Sapato.ru's parent company sold the e-retail operation to the largest Internet retailer in Russia, Ozon Group, for an undisclosed amount. "We have worked hard to master the art of online fashion retail, and our expansive and loyal customer base speaks for itself," says Sapato.ru's CEO Matthieu Lannegrand. "This is a result of efforts made by our team and its firm commitment to quality and success."

Sapato.ru's investors view the online shoe market in Russia as ripe for growth. "We are excited about the potential for Sapato.ru and our investment in Sapato.ru reflects our belief in e-commerce as well as our focus on Russia as a good market to develop Internet-related services," says Henrik Persson, head of investment at Investment AB Kinnevik, which put about $2 million into Sapato.ru in 2010.

Getting bigger through acquisition – Metro Group

Metro Group, one of the largest retailing conglomerates in Europe, remains one of the fastest-growing web merchants on the continent primarily because of its big appetite for acquisitions. In 2011 web sales of Metro Group (No. 41), which operates a network of more than 2,100 stores in 33 countries and operates brands such as Metro/Makro Cash & Carry, Media Markt, Saturn and Galeria Kaufho, grew its web sales 236.4% to 402 million euros ($520.3 million) in 2011 from 119.5 million euros ($154.7 million).

E-commerce revenue grew so dramatically because of Metro Group's acquisition of Redcoon, a mass merchandise e-commerce site with annual sales of about 345.5 million euros ($447.2 million) and an inventory of 24,000 products. As a part of its Media Saturn group, which includes consumer electronics brand Media Markt, Metro Group has ambitious plans to grow annual e-commerce revenue more than ten-fold within three years.

"The goal is to achieve around 5 billion euro in online sales by 2015, and with an accelerated online strategy we want to enter a new growth phase," says Media Saturn chief financial officer and vice chairman Rolf Hagemann. "Thanks to the close ties between our bricks-and-mortar business and our online activities we can offer our customers a value-add right from the beginning which none of our pure online competitors can offer."

In January 2012 Media Saturn launched MediaMarkt.de, which incorporates an existing digital download shop of nearly 15 million song titles and related content and new lines of merchandise such as consumer electronics.

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