* Rocket Internet building online empire outside US, China
* Smartphones help e-commerce pass stores in emerging mkts
* Rocket considering $6.8 bln IPO
By Emma Thomasson
PARIS, June 19 The founder of Rocket Internet,
the German venture capital company behind dozens of online
start-ups, warned the retail industry on Thursday that
e-commerce and smartphones would mean there will be little
future for stores in emerging markets.
Oliver Samwer, 40, told the annual summit of the Consumer
Goods Forum (CGF), an industry network of some 400 retailers and
big brands from 70 countries, that many of them risked being
left behind as the growth of e-commerce accelerates.
"You only have stores because there was no Internet, but
that does not mean there is a right to have a store," Samwer
said, adding that traditional retailers focused too much on
older shoppers and not enough on smartphone-savvy youngsters.
"What you fear will come much faster," he warned.
Rocket Internet is bidding to create the largest internet
empire outside the United States and China, seeking to replicate
the success of Amazon and Alibaba in
markets the U.S. and Chinese e-commerce groups have yet to
dominate, such as Africa, Latin America and Russia.
After his speech, Samwer traded blows about whether stores
will survive, in a panel discussion with Mark Price, managing
director of British grocer Waitrose, who introduced
himself to Samwer saying: "Hi - I'm Mark, I'm a dinosaur."
Samwer founded Rocket Internet in 2007 with his brothers
Marc and Alexander and it is already active in 102 countries,
making revenue of $1 billion in 2013 via online fashion stores
including Dafiti in Latin America and Lamoda in Russia, as well
as Jumia for general merchandise in Africa.
Sources have told Reuters the company is considering a stock
market listing in Frankfurt later this year which could value it
at up to 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion), as buoyant capital
markets have encouraged a flurry of e-commerce flotations this
year, with most focus on Alibaba.
Samwer said the stock market value of Amazon and Alibaba
would soon dwarf the world's biggest retailer Wal-Mart.
"What would you buy for your children? I would buy Amazon
and Rocket (shares)," he said, adding he believed French
retailer Carrefour would have been better off buying a
stake in Alibaba than trying to open stores in China.
ONLY 10 PERCENT LEFT OFFLINE?
Noting that 75 percent of the world's population lives in
the markets Rocket is targeting, Samwer said e-commerce had even
better prospects in emerging markets than in developed
economies, as online sites do not have to compete with such
"If you don't have to share with offline, your percentage
will be much higher," he said. "It will all move online, you
will have 10 percent left that will not move online."
Samwer said Rocket Internet ventures around the world
already had 44 million fans on Facebook, more than Nike
and Apple combined, noting that the cities with
the most active users of Facebook are Bangkok, Jakarta and
Istanbul, with none of the top 10 cities in the United States.
Deutsche Post, the world's largest postal and
logistics company which is profiting from booming deliveries for
online retailers, predicts e-commerce could account for up to 40
percent of total trade by 2025 in developed countries, from
under 10 percent in most markets now, and up to 30 percent in
emerging markets, up from a tiny fraction today.
The Samwers have raised hundreds of millions of dollars of
funding for Rocket Internet and its ventures, including from
Swedish investor AB Kinnevik, billionaire American
industrialist Leonard Blavatnik, JP Morgan Asset Management and
retailers like Tesco and Germany's Tengelmann and Rewe.
Before founding Rocket, the Samwers had success with German
online auction site Alando, which they sold to eBay and
mobile phone content provider Jamba which they sold to VeriSign
Rocket Internet also helped launch Zalando, Europe's biggest
online fashion retailer, which is considering its own stock
market listing. Rocket is no longer invested in Zalando, but the
Samwer brothers' European Founders Fund still owns 18 percent.
($1 = 0.7368 Euros)
(Editing by David Holmes)