Play.com, one of the UK’s most-visited ecommerce sites, is to change hands for £25m. Its new owner, Japanese company Rakuten, has agreed to buy 100% of the company’s shares from its current shareholders in a deal expected to close early next month. Rakuten says it will expand the Play.com business model across its global ecommerce network.
Entertainment retailer Play.com, currently ranked fourth in the IMRG’s Hot Shops 100 of most-visited UK ecommerce sites, has 14m registered users. It employs 500 people and alongside its etail site selling 7m products, it has its own marketplace, PlayTrade. The Jersey-based pureplay is the third European acquisition for Rakuten, which last year bought French company PriceMinister, and added German online shopping mall Tradoria this July. The Tokyo-based gropu now operates ecommerce businesses in 10 countries, incuding Japan, employing more than 10,000 people. This deal sees it enter the UK ecommerce market, widely recognised as the largest in Europe, for the first time, where by 2014 its 55m online shoppers are expected to spend £37.2bn a year online.
Rakuten's chairman and chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani said: “The UK market is one of Europe’s largest and most mature e-commerce markets. Play.com is not only a pioneer in the market, but also one of the UK’s most successful e-commerce businesses. We aim to leverage our e-commerce strength and experience to further expand and develop Play.com’s business model and channel its loyal user base, merchants, and deep product offerings into Rakuten’s global e-commerce network.”