Mar 5, 2015
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Zalando to go on tech hiring spree to grab more fashion sales

Mar 5, 2015

BERLIN, Germany - Europe's largest dedicated online fashion retailer Zalando said on Thursday it plans to hire 2,000 new staff this year as it invests in technology to support a target of sales growth between 20 and 25 percent in 2015.

Zalando expects to increase its staff to about 10,000 by the end of 2015 from around 8,000 now, hiring particularly in the tech and logistics field, but also in fashion and operations, management board member Rubin Ritter told journalists.

"We are not intending to take our foot off the gas," he said. "Our ambition would be to compare ourselves to the large global Internet and e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Google and Alibaba and really step up our game to the next level."

Ritter said Zalando should be able eventually to take 2-3 percent of a European fashion market currently worth 420 billion euros ($463.89 billion), taking sales to 10 billion from the 2.2 billion it recorded in 2014.

E-commerce fashion sales are growing rapidly worldwide and could eventually account for at least a quarter of the market, prompting major players such as Inditex and H&M to invest heavily in online operations.

The Berlin-based firm, which only began selling shoes in 2008, now ships 1,500 brands to customers in 15 countries and has quickly become one of the biggest employers in the German capital - long plagued by high unemployment.

While it has already 700 tech specialists on staff, Ritter said Zalando wanted to add more engineers, data analysts and mobile specialists to support projects like a new curated shopping service and a broadening of its range, for example in booming women's sportswear.

"Being able to offer the best technology, the best personalisation, the best mobile experience is really what will set us apart from competition long term," he said.

Zalando said it had 14.7 million active customers by the end of 2014 and said mobile traffic hit a new high in the fourth-quarter of 48 percent, exceeding 60 percent in some markets around Christmas.

Zalando also needs more logistics experts as it is considering setting up local distribution hubs in markets like Italy, Spain, Britain and the Nordics to complement its existing warehouses in Germany.

It is also seeking more fashion experts as it builds up its own labels, which account for about 15 percent of sales.

Zalando shares, which listed in Frankfurt last year and jumped last month after the company rushed out better-than-expected preliminary 2014 results, were up 4.1 percent.

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