Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar has confirmed that his new $1bn e-commerce site Noon is “on track” to begin operations in 2017 after delaying its launch date.
Announced in November last year, Noon was slated to launch in the UAE in January. However, the site has not yet started operations.
In a statement on Tuesday, Alabbar confirmed that Noon “is on track to launch this year”, without providing a specific date.
“Our beta programme has been very insightful, and all the feedback we received from our early customers has allowed us to test and refine our technology and fulfilment model,” he said.
“It is vital that all our systems and processes work at the highest possible level. The coming months will be spent to ensure this, particularly with some of the many supply chain innovations we have been developing.
“We are excited by what our team has been able to achieve in a short time. In the past few months, we have onboarded additional expertise to enhance our management team and help execute on our plans,” he added.
The company initially promised 20 million products when it came online covering fashion, books, home and garden, electronics, sports and outdoor, health and beauty, personal care, toys, kids and baby products.
It said it will feature mass-market megabrands and discount giants and pledged to have “the fastest delivery times” through its in-house delivery platform.
“We are establishing strategic partnerships with an extensive range of regional retailers, distributors and global brands,” Alabbar said in the statement.
“These partnerships will allow Noon to provide its customers with a broad catalogue of product across categories. With Noon, we aim to deliver an e-commerce platform that creates long-term economic value, is truly relevant to the region and supports its home-grown enterprises.”
The company is backed by a $1bn initial investment from Alabbar and other Gulf investors and the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which is a 50 per cent shareholder.
Following its launch, the company will shift its base away from Dubai, where it has a massive warehouse in Dubai South, close to the Al Maktoum International airport.
“Following the launch of Noon, our permanent operational base will be in Riyadh, and we are currently scaling up our resourcing and operations there.
“This allows us an excellent opportunity to bring into the organisation some of best new young Saudi talent working in this field,” he said.
As per its original intentions, Noon plans to soon launch across the Middle East region. It aims to grow online sales in the region from 2 per cent of the total market ($3bn), to 15 per cent ($70bn) within a decade.
“Noon has the potential to disrupt the nascent e-commerce market in the region. I would like to thank our partners, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, for their continued support and guidance through this process, and our highly dedicated team of experts from a variety of fields, now working around the clock as we translate our vision into reality.”
The UAE’s e-commerce market is seeing strong activity, with Souq.com acquired by Amazon and online platform JadoPado acquired by a tech fund headed by Alabbar.
Late last year, Alabbar also signed a joint venture deal with international online luxury fashion retailer Yoox Net-A-Porter (YNAP) to set up an online luxury retail business in the Middle East.
The JV – worth a combined 130m euros ($138.5m), will be owned 60 per cent by YNAP and 40 per cent by Alabbar’s Symphony Investments.
It will manage all of the group’s existing multi-brand online stores in the region including Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter, Yoox and The Outnet – as well as, in agreement with the brands, certain existing and future online stores that have significant business potential in the Middle East.
Yoox and the Outnet will launch in 2018 while Net-A-Porter and Mr.Porter will begin operations in 2019.