x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Jordan website attracts $5m in funding

Jordan-based e-commerce site MarkaVIP reports $5 million in funding from US investors.

A retail website based in Jordan has attracted US$5 million (Dh18.3m) in funding from US investors and says it will use the cash to expand its user base in the Gulf.

MarkaVIP, which specialises in discounted clothing, said it received the funding in a deal led by Lumia Capital, along with Invus Financial Advisors.

The membership-based website offers discounted clothing from brands such as Calvin Klein, Cartier and Gucci.

It also sells accessories and some electronic goods.

Ahmed Alkhatib, the founder and chief executive of MarkaVIP, said the company would use the funding to expand in the region.

"It's going to allow us to aggressively expand our users," he said.

"Right now we have 800,000 users. We'd like to get to 2 [million] or 3 million over the next year. We're going to go aggressively after partnerships and affiliate deals with other sites."

The site currently has distribution centres in Dubai, Lebanon and Jordan, with another set to open in Turkey soon.

Mr Alkhatib said the company was also considering building a distribution centre in Saudi Arabia.

"We also plan to expand our operations in the GCC," he said. "We need to be where our customers are."

The website sets a time limit on deals. Some of the clothes it sells are sourced from the excess inventory of big-name brands.

Mr Alkhatib said the site's revenues were in the "seven figures in dollar terms on a monthly basis".

Experts estimate revenues to be in the region of US$3 million (Dh11m) a month, and its top markets are Saudi Arabia, followed by Jordan and the UAE. MarkaVIP was launched in November last year in Jordan, a country Mr Alkhatib called "the Silicon Valley of the Middle East".

The Maktoob portal, which was acquired by the US giant Yahoo for $164m in 2009, was also founded in Jordan.

Mr Alkhatib said MarkaVIP had already received the $5m in funding. He declined to specify the equity stake the funding partners would receive.

He said the deal "validates" the company's business model. "It makes it much easier for us … to seek additional funding if we needed it."

Lumia, which is based in Silicon Valley in California, and Invus, which operates from New York City, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.