Cdiscount offers more than 90,000 non-food branded products at prices discounted by between 20 and 50 per cent. The new site will compete with Amazon, Tesco and DSGi.
Cdiscount sells a broad range of categories including electricals, leisure, homewares, fashion and computing. It also offers financial services, insurance, gaming microsites and a social networking platform. The UK operation is understood to be being headed by Andy Jones, who has worked for DSGi and Tesco.
Cdiscount, which is majority-owned by Casino, claims that one in three online shoppers in France shop on its site and that it is 2.5 times larger in revenue terms than both Amazon’s French arm and DSGi-owned Pixmania in France.
A UK site, Cdiscount.co.uk, is under construction and the retailer has recruited buying teams to approach brands and adapt the site to suit the UK user.
Last year, Cdiscount reported revenues of 600 million (£481 million) and has set a target turnover of 800 million (£641.3 million) this year. It represented 4 per cent of Casino’s group sales last year, which were 17.9 billion (£14.35 billion).
Cdiscount also operates German web site Discount24.de as part of a partnership with German home shopping group Otto, after buying 50 per cent of the business in July last year.
According to online data provider ComScore, Cdiscount ranks eighth in the top 10 French online retailers by unique visitors, ahead of DSGi’s Pixmania and hot on the heels of Amazon and Apple’s French sites. It notched up 4.1 million unique users in July, with an average of 310,000 daily visitors.
Planet Retail analyst Isabel Cavill said Cdiscount is looking for partners to link with in international markets to compete with Amazon. “It will be a tough challenge to compete with Amazon in the UK, unless it does a significant amount of marketing.”
The business, which began as a CD e-tailer in 1998, was the brainchild of brothers Hervé, Christophe and Nicolas Charle. In 2000, Casino acquired a stake in the business and last July it upped its holding to 78.5 per cent.
It operates from a 1 million sq ft distribution centre and has one standalone store in Bouscat, Bordeaux, which is able to offer the same prices as the web site.
“It will be in direct competition with Play.com, Dixons and Currys,” said ComScore sales manager Delphine Gatignol. “The fact that it is backed by Casino will help it succeed.”
Casino declined to comment.