Asserting its leadership in the fast-growing Russian e-commerce market, Ozon.ru confirmed yesterday the full acquisition of leading online shoe and accessory retailer Sapato.ru for an undisclosed amount, partly paid with shares.

Ozon’s intentions had been revealed earlier this month when the Russian antimonopoly authorities gave their green light for the deal.

The acquisition will allow Ozon – which launched its own section dedicated to shoes less than a year ago – to gain a leading position on the online footwear market. The move could also provide Ozon with fulfilment capacities specially adapted to the shoe business, following the example of Amazon, which bought Zappos in 2009.

“It is our first acquisition,” said Ozon CEO Maëlle Gavet in an exchange with the Wall Street Journal, “but it certainly won’t be our last.”

“Sapato’s specialized fashion experience brings an additional element to Ozon that until now has been missing,” Gavet also said. “For our part, we will help and support Sapato as they build out their expertise and resources in order to become an absolute leader in this category.”

“The combination of Ozon and Sapato.ru creates a powerhouse online retailer that no one else in Russia can match,” added Sapato.ru CEO Matthieu Lannegrand.

In September of last year, Ozon attracted $100 million from major venture funds and Japanese e-retailer Rakuten, marking the most significant investment volume in the history of Russian e-commerce.

A fast start and quick exit

Launched in June 2010 by Fast Lane Ventures, a Moscow-based Internet accelerator founded by Western businessmen Pascal Clément and Oskar Hartmann, Sapato.ru came as the first major online shoe retailer in Russia. It stands now as the most recognized brand among online shoe retailers and the third most recognized one among online retailers in Russia, according to a survey conducted in November 2011 by Russian poll institute ROMIR. Last December, the site attracted 2.5 million unique visitors.

In September 2011, Sapato’s gross demand reached $26 million, up from $56,000 one year earlier, Fast Lane Ventures General Manager Marina Treshchova told East-West Digital News in a recent interview. She expects the site’s trade turnover to reach $130 this year and $170  million in 2013.

Sapato.ru raised a total of $20 million in three rounds of financing from Fast Lane Ventures and its mother company Direct Group, eVenture Capital Partners, the venture investment branch of the Otto Group, and Kinnevik, a diversified Swedish holding founded in 1936, and Intel Capital. The last round alone, led by Intel Capital last June, amounted to $12 million.

Among other Russian sites specializing in footwear include Bagsandshoes.ru and Online-obuv.ru, founded in 2010, and Promenad.ru, launched in early 2011 by the Otto Group, a leading global distance sales group with a strong presence in Russia. But Sapato’s strongest competitor is Lamoda.ru, launched just one year ago, which has quickly asserted itself on the market.

  • The total volume of Russian e-commerce reached 310 billion rubles, a little more than $10 billion, last year. EWDN’s study on Russian e-commerce will soon be available. To receive a free Executive summary or to order the full version, please contact us at editor@ewdn.com.