March 19, 2018 / 7:57 AM / in 8 months

Online furniture retailer Home24 trims losses as it eyes listing​

BERLIN (Reuters) - German online retailer Home24, which aims to challenge IKEA’s dominance of the European furniture market, accelerated sales and trimmed losses in the fourth quarter after sources said it is considering a stock market listing.

Home24, in which ecommerce investor Rocket Internet holds a 43 percent stake, said quarterly sales rose 21 percent to 80 million euros ($98 million), picking up from a 10 percent rise in the first nine months of the year.

Its adjusted loss before interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) narrowed to 4 million euros.

Launched in 2009 in Berlin, the company delivers furniture in seven European markets, plus Brazil. It said on Monday that its Latin American region was the first to reach breakeven in the fourth quarter on an adjusted EBITDA basis.

Home24 is expected to publish an intention to float in May or June, with the offer volume seen at 100 million-200 million euros, sources told Reuters last week, potentially valuing the company at 500 million to 600 million euros.

On a conference call with journalists, Co-Chief Executive Marc Appelhoff declined to comment on a possible initial public listing, beyond saying that the company is considering internal and external options to finance future expansion.

Shares in Rocket Internet, which have risen almost 60 percent in the last year after the successful flotations of online food sites HelloFresh and Delivery Hero, were up 1.2 percent at 0951 GMT.

“A successful IPO of Home24 at 550 million euros would be very positive for Rocket Internet and would result in a valuation upside of 1.20 euros per Rocket share,” wrote Bankhaus Lampe analyst Christoph Bast in a note.

Appelhoff said the company still has significant growth potential given that ecommerce only accounts for a small portion of the more than 100 billion euros of sales in the home furnishings market in Europe.

Home24 is concentrating for now on improving its website and customer service in its existing markets, as well as possibly opening more showrooms, rather than opening in new countries, Appelhoff said.

Furniture sales online have been relatively slow to take off compared to fashion, but big players such as IKEA are now investing heavily in ecommerce.

Appelhoff noted that Home24 offered free delivery and returns, which he said it could afford to do given its offering of more profitable own labels.

When Home24 last raised capital in 2016, its growth had stalled and its valuation was slashed by more than half to 420 million euros.

Other investors include Sweden’s Kinnevik and Edinburgh-based fund manager Baillie Gifford.

($1 = 0.8150 euros)

Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely

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