France now has its second unicorn of the year after marketplace start-up Ankorstore raised €250m in Series C funding to reach a €1.75bn valuation.
The valuation comes less than a week after France got its first unicorn of the year last week, software start-up PayFit.
Ankorstore is a wholesale marketplace for more than 200,000 independent retailers across 23 countries in Europe. It positions itself as an alternative to Amazon by seeking local brands that the e-commerce giant does not offer.
The start-up has been growing rapidly since its founding by a team of four French e-commerce entrepreneurs two years ago. Ankorstore said its activity across Europe tripled in the first four months of 2021, despite half of its affiliated retailers closing their doors during lockdowns.
Ankorstore is a strong proponent of supporting local business and aims to connect neighbourhood retailers with independent shop owners and brands. In November last year, it launched a campaign urging European retailers to shop local during the holiday season.
The advantage of using Ankorstore is that retailers get up to 60 days to pay after ordering items at no extra cost. More than 15,000 independent brands sell their products on the start-up’s platform.
“In retail terms, an ‘anchor store’ is a shop that drives traffic and draws attention. We want independent retailers to become the local ‘anchor stores’ in their community, they’re the ones who offer the curated product at the right price and combine that with a unique and special experience,” said co-founder and chief business officer Pierre-Louis Lacoste.
Ankorstore is unique among other e-commerce marketplaces in that it does not have any warehouses or own any inventory – it only connects retailers to independent sellers in a B2B2C business model.
“We think we’re closer to LinkedIn in the way we operate — it’s a network of professionals and we help them connect with each other,” co-founder and co-chief executive Nicolas Cohen told TechCrunch.
The Series C funding round was led by investors Bond and Tiger Global, with participation from Eurazeo and Coatue. Existing investors Index Ventures, Bain Capital, GFC, Alven and Algae Venture also chipped into the funding.
With the latest funding, Ankorstore has raised more than €356m in less than two years. It employs more than 450 people across Europe.
While the wholesale marketplace in Europe is a space relatively free of competition at the moment, San Francisco-based Faire has raised more than $1bn for its wholesale marketplace platform. With offices in London and Amsterdam, it has been expanding in Europe recently.
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