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WorldStores and Farfetch win significant investment

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Pureplays WorldStores and Farfetch both this week announced investment worth millions that they will put into improving delivery offers, technology and expansion.

WorldStores, which operates homewares etailer, flash sale platform, furniture site and nursery retailer, said it had won £25m from Goldman Sachs’ merchant banking division.

It will use the money to build its own fulfilment fleet, with the target of offering next-day delivery of large items within a one-hour window, seven days a week. At the same time it will invest in improving its technology platform and growing’s membership platform.

Worldstores now employs more than 350 people from its Twickenham headquarters and turns over more than £100m a year.

Richard Tucker, co-chief executive and co-founder of WorldStores, said: “We are very excited by the opportunities ahead and delighted to have such a strong investor base to support our growth strategy.

“We will now build on our leading position in the UK online home and living market to offer our customers a continuously improving service and value proposition. This new funding round also enables us to further scale-up our flash sales business Casafina which has quickly established itself as a trusted brand following its launch in late 2013.”

Goldman Sachs joins existing investors Balderton Capital, Advent Ventures and Serena Capital, who also participated in the fundraising. David Reis, executive director and head of technology investments at Goldman Sachs MBD in Europe, will join the WorldStores’ advisory board.

“We have been impressed by the success of WorldStores and are pleased to back such a high-quality founder led management team,” said Andrew Wolff, managing director and head of Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division (“MBD”) for Europe, Middle East, Africa and co-Head of Asia. “We see favourable dynamics in the UK online furniture market and share the management team’s vision to strengthen the Company’s leadership position and deliver value to its customers.”

Alex Birch, partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, who advised on the transaction, said: “We see evidence that consumers will continue to migrate online in the home and garden categories. We believe that the Company’s extensive product offering, differentiated delivery model and highly scalable technology platform position WorldStores very well to win a share of this growth.”

Meanwhile, luxury online fashion retailer Farfetch said it was valued at $1bn following $86m from a funding round led by DST Global in which existing investors Condé Nast International and Vitruvian Partners also took part.

So far the company has raised investment worth $195m: investors also include Advent Ventures Partners, Index Ventures, Novel TMT and e.Ventures.

Farfetch, founded in 2008, gives an online platform for more than 300 leading designer boutiques, from London and New York to Paris, Tokyo and Kuwait. The new investment will be used for further international expansion, including local language sites in German, Korean and Spanish, as well as the roll-out of omnichannel and customer services including same-day delivery and loyalty programmes.

Jose Neves, founder and chief executive of Farfetch, welcomed the funding for Farfetch’s next stage of growth. “The challenge now is to keep innovating and focus on establishing a long-lasting global brand,” he said.

“Farfetch’s development has been remarkably dynamic over the last few years,” said Moritz von Laffert, vice president and director of acquisitions and investments at Conde Nast International. “We are happy to support the talented management team who drive the company forward on its successful course.”

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