Online retailer receives £10m funding boost

Kasmira Jefford
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A CONSORTIUM of private equity firms have ploughed £10m into the UK-based online furniture retailer WorldStores to help accelerate its expansion, the group announced yesterday.

Worldstores, founded by entrepreneurs Joe Murray and Richard Tucker, runs 60 niche websites that together sold over 400,000 items in the past 12 months ranging from garden sheds to mattresses.

Tucker said the new capital will help grow its supplier network and widen its product range, which now exceeds 500,000 lines.

“We will continue to invest in the development of the business and our brand, now supported by TV advertising,” he added.

The funding round, led by Serena Capital and backed by existing investors Balderton Capital and Advent Venture Partners, takes the total amount it has raised to £21m, since 2009.

Balderton Capital, a tech-focused venture firm that has also backed online retailer The Hut group, invested an initial £4m in 2009 and a further £7m in 2011 with Advent.

WorldStores’ sales rose 50 per cent last year and the firm is targeting £75m of sales in 2013, all in the UK.

The estimated £40bn home and garden market has been one of the hardest hit categories in recent years, with squeezed consumers cutting back on big-ticket items.

However, unlike some of its traditional competitors, Worldstores has no stores and it also benefits from holding very little of its stock, with almost all of its web orders being carried out directly by suppliers.

Serena’s managing partner Marc Fournier said he was “impressed with its accomplishments” and its ability to become a “national leader” in such a short time.