June 29, 2015 / 8:42 PM / in 2 years

Canada's BuildDirect says any IPO at least a year away

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian home renovation retailer BuildDirect.com is weighing an eventual initial public offering, but will stay private for at least the next year as it develops its ‘Uber’-like online marketplace, its co-founder and chief executive said.

The Vancouver-based company, which recently acquired Waterloo-based online renovation design startup, DraftingSpace, won C$50 million ($40.39 million) in new funding in late 2014 to help beef up operations.

“We have our heads down right now building the business ... We aren’t thinking about an IPO in the next 12 months, I’ll say that. It would be beyond a year,” Chief Executive Jeff Booth said in an interview.

A successful market debut in May by Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc SH.TO, has fueled investor interest in the country’s technology sector, with many looking to the next financial move for start-ups such as Hootsuite, Wattpad, Shop.ca and Payfirma.

BuildDirect was founded more than 15 years ago by Jeff Booth, a builder, and his friend Rob Banks. The company came close to failing during the financial crisis, Booth said, adding that he and his wife at one point sold their family home to keep it going.

Today, BuildDirect pulls in some $120 million in sales from 2,500 different types of products, said Booth, who puts the company’s valuation near C$500 million.

That’s up from the $80 million in sales from about 1,600 products in 2013, and $40 million from approximately 1,100 merchandise in 2012.

The company uses a proprietary software system to connect suppliers directly with U.S. and Canadian contractors and do-it-yourself homeowners, aiming to cut costs on both ends.

BuildDirect plans to significantly escalate the number of products offered on its site this year, Booth said. It now deals with some 300 suppliers globally. The company is starting beta testing of an expanded version of its platform in July.

“We’ve actually intentionally slowed the growth ... while we build the infrastructure to be able to support what is going to be a lot greater than that number,” he said.

The company estimates eighty percent of customers are do-it-yourselfers, and account for about 45 percent of revenue. Contractors make up the other 20 percent, and 55 percent of sales.

Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Andrew Hay

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