April 16, 2014, 11:02 AM

China’s No.1 cosmetics e-retailer aims to raise $400 million in a U.S. IPO

The company’s online sales topped $800 million in 2013, and it’s been profitable since 2012.

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Jumei.com, China’s largest web retailer of beauty and cosmetics products, disclosed Friday that it is planning an initial public offering of stock in the United States, hoping to raise about $400 million.

Jumei, No. 11 in the Internet Retailer China 500 Guide, has been growing rapidly, both through selling merchandise itself and opening Jumei.com to other merchants. The gross merchandise value of goods sold on Jumei.com totaled $816.6 million in 2013, a 785% increase from 92.3 million in 2011. Active customers increased about eight times from 1.3 million in 2011 to 10.5 million in 2013.

Founded by Leo Chen in 2010, Jumei quickly became profitable. After booking a $4 million loss in 2011, the company reported net income of $8.1 million in 2012 and $25.0 million in 2013. 

Jumei sells total 30,000 SKUs, such as Lancôme and Estee Lauder’s skin care products through its site Jumei.com and its mobile apps. In the first quarter of 2014, about 49% of Jumei’s sales come from mobile devices, according to the prospectus the company released in conjunction with the planned stock offering.

Chen chose a fast-growing market. China’s beauty products industry is growing steadily, total retail sales increasing from $22.5 billion in 2010 to $36.5 billion in 2013, a compound annual growth rate of 17.5%, according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan.

And online sales of cosmetic products are growing much faster than total sales for the category. Online beauty sales reached $3.7 billion in 2013, up from $300 million in 2010, a compound annual growth rate of 136.5%, says Frost & Sullivan.

Chinese e-commerce companies generally are growing rapidly, especially the biggest ones. According to the China 500, the top 10 e-retailers in China grew their online sales 80.2% in 2013 from the year before.

That growth is prompting interest in Chinese e-retailers among U.S. investors. Two of the largest Chinese e-commerce companies have announced plans for U.S. IPOs. They are JD.com, which says it hopes to raise about $1.5 billion, and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which has not said how much it intends to raise. Alibaba, which operates two big online marketplaces, Taobao and Tmall that account 80% of e-retail sales in China according to the China 500, could be valued by the stock market at between $100 billion and $150 billion, analysts says.

Jd.com ranks No. 1 in the Internet Retailer China 500 Guide. Alibaba is not ranked because it is a pure online shopping platform, like eBay Inc., that hosts other merchants and does not sell on its own behalf.

Connect with Frank Tong on LinkedIn.

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