June 8, 2015 / 3:44 PM / 4 years ago

Shop.ca weighs IPO within next year after raising cash

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian e-commerce start-up Shop.ca is looking at going public within the next year to take advantage of robust investor appetite for the country’s technology sector, its top executive said.

Shop.ca Chief Executive James Haggarty is shown in this undated handout photo released on June 7, 2015. REUTERS/MacDonell Photography via Shop.ca/Handout

The company raised C$20 million ($16.11 million) from strategic and institutional investors in a recent funding round led by Scotiabank, Chief Executive James Haggarty said in a recent interview. That brought its fundraising to date to C$75 million.

Investors in Shop.ca, which sells products ranging from beauty creams to guitars and barbecue grills, include Torstar Corp (TSb.TO), Difference Capital and Shaw Ventures, an affiliate of Shaw Communications Inc (SJRb.TO).

While Haggarty declined to name the institutional investors, data from CrunchBase showed they include Pyramis Global Advisors and Dynamic Funds, a unit of Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO).

“Going public has always been our liquidity plan, and the current market conditions have forced us to look at it earlier rather than later,” said Haggarty, a former Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO) executive who joined Shop.ca in early 2014.

“There is a lot of interest in us from all angles,” he added.

A successful market debut last month by another Canadian e-commerce company, Shopify Inc SH.TO, has fueled interest in the Canadian technology sector. Investors are eyeing the next financial move for start-ups such as Hootsuite, Wattpad, BuildDirect, Vision Critical, Shoes.com, Payfirma and D2L.

Shop.ca recorded 90 percent sales growth in 2014 and is on track to double its sales this year, Haggarty said. He declined to disclose the company’s revenue.

Launched in 2012, Shop.ca differs from some traditional e-commerce websites as it has no warehouses or inventory.

The strategy has similarities with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s (BABA.N) Tmall marketplace model. The roughly 500 merchants selling on Shop.ca’s site ship the goods themselves.

Founded by childhood friends Drew Green and Trevor Newell, Shop.ca partners with retailers instead of competing against them, said Haggarty, who is a chartered professional accountant.

“We bring in sales of products for our merchant partners, which includes retailers and distributors.”

The company has an exclusive marketplace agreement with Aimia Inc-operated (AIM.TO) loyalty rewards program Aeroplan, which has credit cards from Toronto Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and CIBC (CM.TO).

Shop.ca had 15 million visitors in 2014 and offers products from brands such as Samsung, Sony and Fila.

Haggarty, who said he turned down additional capital during the recent funding round, plans to use the proceeds for sales and marketing, as well as investing in the company’s technology.

Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Paul Simao

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