As Asos’s largest shareholder Bestseller owner Anders Holch Povlsen takes a stake in rival online player Zalando, Retail Week takes a look at the German business.

  • Zalando launched in 2008 as a footwear etailer with founders David Schneider and Robert Gentz packing shoes themselves in the cellar of its Berlin office. The assortment consisted a small number of selected brands at that point.
  • The etailer aired its first TV ads on MTV in 2009 and expanded its range beyond shoes into adult clothing the following year.
  • Zalando has rapidly expanded to become one of Europe’s largest etailers with operations in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Finland, Denmark and Poland.
  • It opened in the UK to much fanfare in 2011 pitching its offer toe-to-toe with Asos. Its first TV ads warned British shoppers “we’re addictive” and ran with the strapline – ‘Don’t you ever let your wife, your girlfriend or your sister discover!’ The UK is an attractive market for Zalando with the UK online retail estimated at £76bn by trade body IMRG. Fashion sales make up a significant proportion of this and rose 29% year-on-year in June.
  • Zalando’s revenues increased 125% to €1.15bn (£1.01bn) in 2012. Sales soared 74% to €372m at the site, which has 15 million customers in the first quarter of 2013.
  • Zalando now carries 1,500 brands including a vast array of household names including Adidas, Miss Sixty and Ted Baker. It also carries exclusive fashion labels like Apepazza and Latitude Femme.
  • Zalando’s international Facebook page has 54,151 likes while its German page has 586,540.
  • Povlsen, whose Bestseller empire includes Jack & Jones and Vero Moda, will buy 10% of the company’s shares from several early-stage shareholders of the German-based etailer such as European Founders Fun, Holtzbrinck and Tengelmann.