The SME Story: Tarek Sakr, founder and CEO of 4Sale
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The SME Story: Tarek Sakr, founder and CEO of 4Sale

The SME Story: Tarek Sakr, founder and CEO of 4Sale

The company claims to be Kuwait’s largest online classifieds platform

Give us a business overview of 4Sale.
4Sale is Kuwait’s largest online classifieds platform – a platform where people come together to buy and sell goods and services. Our easy-to-use platform is hugely popular, we connect over a million active users a month – that’s one in four people in Kuwait.

Since our inception, we have helped 1.7 million registered users sell over 13.1 million items and services. Currently, we receive over 6,000 new listings every day, and that number is growing.

We charge a flat fee for individual listings in specific categories and have a wide sector coverage, including automotive, electronics, human resources, property and services.

Our growth is reflected by our commercial performance. We are profitable and from 2015-2019, our EBITDA grew at a CAGR of 35.3 per cent. In the same period, our revenue grew at a CAGR of 27.4 per cent. We have already successfully divested a 56 per cent holding to NBK – its endorsement as a strategic investor, speaks volumes.

What are the company’s expansion plans?
Our operations are deliberately [focused on] Kuwait only. We have a deep understanding of our market. It is a Kuwaiti solution for Kuwaiti consumers, and appeals to the trading culture of Kuwaitis.

Kuwait is the most tech-enabled population in the Arab world, and every day digitisation in the country increases, which is reflected in the growing online element of our business model. While our Kuwaiti user base is still growing, it does not make strategic sense for us to divert resources into any new markets.

How have purchasing habits of Kuwaiti consumers evolved in recent years?
We’ve seen a huge transition in the Kuwaiti consumer from physical to online purchasing. We were one of the first players in the online space to enable customers to look for purchases online, and we’ve managed to stay ahead of the competition by consistently offering the customer more in terms of buying and selling.

How has the pandemic affected the online classifieds market?
I can only speak for 4Sale, but our performance was resilient throughout the pandemic. We remained profitable and healthy. As with many sectors, the pandemic encouraged consumers to trade more online, and now 70 per cent of our transactions take place this way. The more traditional customers (30 per cent of our market) prefer cash payments, but I would expect that to gradually reduce. People will always trade, even if their methodology changes. As digitisation increases, we are making a concerted investment in technology, to optimise the user experience, and expand in each vertical.

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