Regional online retailer noon has announced plans to launch of two entities in China, one on the mainland and the other in Hong Kong, as part of plans to expand to Asia.
The company said it aims to establish a network of Chinese brand owners to bring products to customers in the Middle East.
A noon team has been meeting directly with local brand owners in China and the company also plans to set up a permanent office space in the country, it said in a statement.
Noon said it has also been working with a financial services company that provides online money transfer and digital payment services to Chinese sellers and will help facilitate the process of doing business in the Middle Eastern market.
The retailer is also expanding its logistics capabilities in China and the region.
Mohamed Alabbar, founder of noon said: “China’s booming e-commerce market has one of the most active marketplaces in the world.
“We’re looking to partner with top brand owners and marketplace platforms to help us curate a wider and more diverse assortment of products for our customers in the Middle East.”
Noon was founded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund and a consortium of Gulf investors including Alabbar with an initial capital of $1bn in 2016.
After a rough start that saw the company miss its promised early 2017 launch date and undergo several management changes, the platform came online in the UAE in September and Saudi Arabia in December.
It competes for sales in the region with established player Souq.com, which was acquired by Amazon for an estimated $650m last year.
Earlier this year, noon announced that it has partnered with eBay to offer customers access to products in other markets.
The company is also soon planning expand further geographically and enter the grocery market, Alabbar confirmed in an interview to CNN this week.
“Moving forward, we have to look at other Middle Eastern markets. I think we should not be very shy even to look a little bit East. We should really look at Pakistan and countries like that, because they’ve got 180, 190 population out there. And I think if you were to go to North Africa, the same thing, the base is quite good in that the area as well,” he said.
Alabbar also confirmed that the company is in talks to find a grocery provider.
“I think we should look at six months from now for us to start the business… We’re talking to a few. I think within the coming six months we should be final. Either that or we buy somebody, simple as that,” he added.
The Middle East e-commerce market is expected to double between 2017 and 2020 to reach $20bn, according to the ‘Middle East B2C E-Commerce Market 2018′ report.