RealTime IT News

European Merger Creates E-Commerce Giant

The merger of two shopping portals, U.K-based Shopgenie and the Latin American site Kelkoo.com, has created the largest shopping comparison service in Europe.

Earlier this year in April, Kelkoo.com merged with Spain's DondeComprar.com, which brought an extensive directory of online merchants. The latest merger adds even more facilities to the service, still named Kelkoo.com.

Shopgenie was founded last year by 23-year-old Philip Wilkinson, who commented that the merger would help to give Kelkoo.com the edge over the competition by adding Shopgenie's advanced technology to its existing facilities.

"Our proprietary technology and the sheer number of site comparisons in each category, combined with the largest directory of merchant sites in the world and the ability for a user in country A to source a product from a merchant in country B and get it delivered to country C, will give Kelkoo.com the edge over our rivals."

Kelkoo.com expects to achieve a turnover of £1.7 million ($2.72 million) this year, creating more than 200 new jobs in Europe and Latin America. It has raised £8 million ($12.8 million) in recent months and is finalizing a further £20 million ($32 million) round of financing scheduled for the end of May.

Kelkoo.com will launch a new, expanded Web site on June 1, with versions in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Later in the year they will be followed by German, Italian and Scandinavian sites.

The Spanish and Latin American industrial Internet group Netjuice is the largest shareholder in Kelkoo.com with a 37 per cent stake. The three founders, Pierre Chappaz, Jorge Juan Garcia and Philip Wilkinson, have a combined holding of 36 percent, while the remaining shares are held by financial investors including Banexi Ventures (BNP/Paribas), Innovacom (France Telecom) and netvest.com Plc.

Pierre Chappaz, a former marketing director of IBM Europe, will be chief executive officer of the expanded venture.

"The UK is one of the most mature e-commerce markets in Europe today and as such is of strategic importance to Kelkoo.com. By year end, the U.K. could be our strongest single contributor in terms of revenue," said Chappaz.

Although still in its infancy in the U.K. and Europe, comparison shopping is expected to grow rapidly, following the example of the United States where e-commerce shopping guides account for 21 per cent of all online shopping.