x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Alabbar says Noon.com launch on track

Noon.com, which was announced in November last year with a January launch, is the brainchild of the Emaar chairman and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia looking to dominate the region’s rapidly changing retail landscape.

Mohamed Alabbar had said the website would launch with up to 20 million products. Karim Sahib / AFP
Mohamed Alabbar had said the website would launch with up to 20 million products. Karim Sahib / AFP

The long-awaited launch of Noon.com moved closer on Tuesday as Mohamed Alabbar, Noon’s founder and Emaar’s chairman, broke his silence on the US$1 billion e-commerce platform that was supposed to be ready by January this year.

“I am pleased to confirm that Noon is on track to launch this year,” said Mr Alabbar in a statement.

Noon.com, which was announced in November last year with a January launch, is the brainchild of Mr Alabbar and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia looking to dominate the region’s rapidly changing retail landscape.

“It is vital that all our systems and processes work at the highest possible level,” said Mr Alabbar. “The coming months will be spent to ensure this, particularly with some of the many supply chain innovations we have been developing. Noon has the potential to disrupt the nascent e-commerce market in the region.”

Mr Alabbar had said the website would launch with up to 20 million products. Amazon carries about 40 million products.

Noon announced in November last year it had a warehouse the size of 60 football pitches in Dubai and a head office in Riyadh. Noon.com lost its chief executive, Fodhil Benturquia, last month and no replacement has been announced as yet.

“I hope we can launch in a few months, probably after summer,” said a person familiar with the matter who declined to be named. “I doubt we will be the market leader that was suggested at the announcement. The problems run very, very deep but I’m sure we can work them out.”

The troubled start-up looked to stem the bleeding last week when it was announced that Jadopado.com, a Dubai-based online marketplace, had been bought by Mr Alabbar’s technology fund. Its staff have been subsumed into Noon.com and its founder, Omar Kassim, made its chief technology officer, according to the sources.

There has been a flurry of activity this year in the online world with Amazon’s buyout of regional e-commerce platform Souq.com. Emaar had looked to outbid that deal by offering $800 million the day before Souq.com announced it would be bought by Amazon.

Mr Alabbar has other online stakes, owning 40 per cent of a €130m joint venture with Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP) to bring the Milan-based online luxury fashion retailer to the region next year as well as a 4 per cent stake in YNAP itself.

ascott@thenational.ae

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