BEIJING — As the bell rang in Nasdaq’s Times Square MarketSite Studio, to mark Secoo’s U.S. initial public offering at 9:22 a.m. Friday, fake dollars were shot out of golden, toy guns at a lively, private dinner here. The premium lifestyle platform’s momentous bell ringing was celebrated on the other side of the world in the luxurious Hutong Courtyard Villa, at the Waldorf Astoria, by investors, staff and members of the press, who watched via live link and toasted the company’s founder and chief executive officer Richard Li, and Secoo Luxe’s ceo, Eric Chan.
China’s largest luxury goods e-commerce platform raised about $140 million from the IPO and is listed under the symbol “Seco.” The company offered 8.5 million American depositary shares at $13 per ADS for a total offering size of about $110.50 million. Jefferies LLC and BNP Paribas Securities Corp. acted as joint bookrunners.
The ADS price fell on the higher end of the estimated $11.50 to $13.50 price range, showing the market’s optimism for high-end consumption in China. An additional $30 million was raised from two cornerstone investors — Country Garden Holdings, one of China’s largest integrated property developers, and YTL Corporation, one of Malaysia’s leading integrated infrastructure conglomerates.
The listing rang in the first launch of an e-commerce IPO after Alibaba’s listing 36 months ago. It is also China’s first luxury lifestyle platform IPO.
Benefiting from the country’s burgeoning middle class, Secoo has seen its star rise in recent years. The company’s annual income for the year ending June 30 was $437 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which demonstrated a steady profit trend.
Secoo commands over 25 percent of the online upscale products and services retail market in China, according to a 2016 independent market research report by Frost & Sullivan. The luxury retailer also comes in first place in the same category for the Asia market, with over a 15 percent share.
These positive statistics demonstrate future earning potential for the company, as Chinese consumer spending is predicted to continue to grow. “The high-end consumption service market grew rapidly in the past few years. Mid- to high-end and upper commodity and service consumption in China will keep rising under the trend of consumption upgrade in the next 10 years. In the coming five years, the new consumption focused on quality will rise over 40 percent with an influence covering 600 million people, which will bring more growth space for Secoo’s future,” said Li.
Founded in 2008, the company has 15.1 million registered users as of June 30, according to company data, with 300,000 active customers in 2016. For the first half of 2017, the company’s GMV was 1.92 billion yuan. The company’s GMV for the previous year was 3.47 billion yuan. The average customer order totals 3,500 yuan. Currently, the company’s stockkeeping unit is in excess of 300,000, spanning 3,000 international and domestic luxury brands, including Versace, Tod’s and Salvatore Ferragamo. However, it is not only foreign bags, watches and apparel that the company retails, but also, high-end travel, gourmet dining, entertainment, art, Chinese luxury goods, cars and planes.
Unlike other online retailers in China, Secoo has not been tainted by any counterfeit goods scandals. The company has carved out a niche for itself in this high-end sector, rather than catering to the masses, as other Chinese e-commerce players, such as Alibaba and JD.com, have.
“We do not have a direct competitor in China, but for online, we are seeing that Net-a-porter is close to Secoo in terms of customers, but our penetration in China is much higher. In fact, we are seeing our customer profile crosses the most with upscale malls and department stores, when 90 percent of the high-end spending is still happening in offline channels, so our customer are from offline channels,” said Chan.
In terms of future growth, Secoo’s business model actually includes both online and offline retailing, through its app, website, and “experience centers,” where online meets offline in Beining, Shanghai, and Chengdu in Mainland China, Milan in Italy, Johor Bahru in Malaysia, and Hong Kong. The omnichannel retailer also has representative offices in those cities, as well as in New York. The company plans to open a representative office in Tokyo next year, as well as open more experience centers, particularly in European tourist destinations popular with Chinese travelers looking to buy foreign, luxury products, namely London and Paris.
With the net proceeds from the Nasdaq offering, Secoo plans to reinvest in marketing and branding efforts, including brand coverage and promotional activities. The company will set up additional offline experience centers (plans are afoot to open another five experience centers in tier-two or tier-three cities by the end of the year, including centers in Tianjin, Xiamen and Wuhan), optimize its supply chain and global logistics network, as well as strengthen its IT infrastructure and technology capabilities. The company will also use the funds as working capital and to have readily available finance for any potential acquisitions in the future.