“Polish Amazon” sees big ahead of record IPO

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E-commerce company Allegro will be listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange on Monday at an estimated value of more than 10 billion francs.


Allegro CEO François Nuyts praises his company's


© AFP
Allegro CEO François Nuyts praises his company’s “lively” and “unique” business model, which has some 12 million active buyers.


Sitting at his desk in a Warsaw skyscraper, the CEO of Poland’s leading e-commerce company Allegro remains indifferent to Amazon’s impending entry into the local market as his company prepares to enter Stock Exchange.

On the contrary, Frenchman François Nuyts, head of Allegro and himself a former director at Amazon, evokes a possible expansion abroad.

“We think there are a lot of things we do well enough, if not better, than any competitor,” he told AFP, in response to reports that the US giant is getting ready to launch a Polish site after years of reflection.

Big day

Monday will be a big day for Allegro and for the Warsaw Stock Exchange. The company will be introduced to the market at an estimated value of around 9.4 billion euros (around 10.10 billion francs), an operation closely watched by other European markets still sluggish, hit by the pandemic.

The company, owned by London-based investment funds Cinven, Permira and Mid Europa, plans to raise around one billion zlotys (around 240 million francs) to buy back its debt.

Allegro is expected to dethrone video game developer CD Projekt RED, creator of the internationally successful game “The Witcher” on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

“Unique” business model

Created in 1999 as a local version of eBay, which it actually kicked out of Poland after a few years, Allegro has experienced remarkable growth, with net income up 19% in 2018, from 31%. 1% in 2019 and 51.8% in the first six months of 2020.

In the first half of the year, net profit also rose to 289.7 million zlotys (approximately 70 million francs) compared to 195.7 million zlotys in the same period last year.

François Nuyts emphasizes Allegro’s “lively” and “unique” business model, connecting more than 100,000 sellers – many of them micro-businesses – with some 12 million active buyers.

The company has a medium-sized warehouse and plans to open a larger one, along with four smaller ones, but over 90% of the products sold never pass through there, going straight from seller to buyer.

“It’s really an innovation from Allegro,” he says, referring to other “global giants” who sell through their platforms and ship their products through multiple warehouses.

“A European success story”

Passionate about gastronomy and kitesurfing, François Nuyts admits that it is “a bit unusual to have a Frenchman from Bordeaux” at the head of a Polish company ranked in the top 10 of e-commerce sites in the world in terms of visitors.

The leader was named CEO two years ago after helping Amazon gain a foothold in Italy and Spain as part of a globetrotting career. He says he was drawn to Allegro as a “European success story”, which began humbly in 1999 in a garage in Poznan, western Poland, where the company is still based.

Asked about his plans for expansion abroad, he smiles: “We would have liked (…) It would be a shame if we could not find a way to have more customers and salespeople abroad”. The company is already exporting – mainly to large Polish communities in countries like Great Britain – and diversifying into financial and logistics services in Poland.

“The New Europe”

The CEO stresses that there should be a “level playing field” and that the EU and national governments should help to ensure this fairness. “Sometimes it feels like the rules are not the same,” he said, referring to state-subsidized shipping rates and the VAT evasion by Empire companies. Middle.

In any case, Allegro will remain focused on growth in Poland, where it still only has a 3% share of the retail market, adds the leader.

“Growth is really ahead of us,” he said, pointing out that e-commerce in Poland still only accounts for 8.0% of total retail sales – a rate well below that of many Western countries.

“There is this dynamism, this energy, a growth which is quite rare” in Poland, he says. “We really have the impression of being in the new Europe here!”

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