The co-founder and CEO of Middle East e-commerce giant Souq.com has said he is not worried by the launch earlier this week of Saudi-backed rival Noon.com as the company gears up for its annual White Friday sales weekend.
Ronaldo Mouchawar said the company had grown 30 to 40 per cent year-on-year across its footprint covering the Gulf countries and Egypt and 50 per cent in Saudi Arabia, set to be Noon’s home market.
“First we have not seen the [Noon] platform, but I am a big believer that this category will grow and we’ll always have a huge share,” Mouchawar told reporters.
“Many e-commerce players have come to the region, including Rocket [Internet] and others. I think we’ll be ok, I’m not worried.
Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar launched e-commerce Noon.com on Sunday with a promise to dominate the Middle East e-commerce market.
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.
Noon is promising 20 million products when it comes online in January in comparison to Souq’s two million and has a goal to boost online sales in the region from 2 per cent of the total market, or $3bn, to 15 per cent, equal to $70bn, within a decade.
“I’m happy to see people are thinking digital versus maybe real estate. Initially a lot of the investment in this region when we were raising capital went into mega projects not entrepreneurship and internet,” Mouchawar said.
“That’s good for the ecosystem we’ve seen in India when investment come the ecosystem booms.”
Souq is expecting to receive 20 million site visits and sell one million products during the upcoming White Friday sale beginning on November 23.
These include 100,000 mobile phones, fashion and health and beauty items and 30,000 grocery items after the recent launch of its grocery shopping category and investment in grocery app InstaShop.
Mouchawar said the company had partnered with local ride hailing app Careem this year to speed up delivery and would also be opening a physical store on Sheikh Zayed Road as a customer collection point to cope with the anticipated increase in orders.
Souq.com secured $275m in a new investment round in February that included existing investors Tiger Global Management and South Africa’s Naspers.
It is also reported to be seeking a buyer for a more than 30 per cent stake, valuing the company at $1.3bn, to support its regional expansion plans.
Mouchawar said the company had hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to assist in its growth but disclosed few other details.
“It’s just looking at what other options we have as a company as we grow,” he said.
However, he suggested a listing was some way off.
“We’re not there yet, we have work to do.” Mouchawar added