Thai fashion start-up Pomelo raises $72m to add stores in Asia

Shoppers within 1km radius of the Pomelo store at 313@Somerset can book a fitting room with its mobile app, so they can continue browsing while waiting for their turn. Pomelo opened its first branch in Singapore on June 12 this year. ST FILE PHOTO
Shoppers within 1km radius of the Pomelo store at 313@Somerset can book a fitting room with its mobile app, so they can continue browsing while waiting for their turn. Pomelo opened its first branch in Singapore on June 12 this year. ST FILE PHOTO

BANGKOK • Fashion e-commerce start-up Pomelo has raised US$52 million (S$72 million) in fresh funding from a group of investors, including top Thai retailer Central Group and Skype co-founders, its chief executive said yesterday.

The JD.com-backed company, which competes with Inditex-owned Zara and H&M, has now raised a total of US$83 million with the Series C funding.

Pomelo, which is present in nine locations across Bangkok, Phuket and Singapore, will open new stores in Bangkok, Jakarta and Singapore, chief executive David Jou said in an interview.

"We are also looking at Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City," he said, adding that new locations were based on online customer data.

Although the company is expanding its physical footprint in Asia, its mobile app accounted for 85 per cent of transactions, he added.

Pomelo, which started with women's fashion online before opening physical stores last year to give shoppers the brand experience and then draw them online, also plans to expand its "fitting room network" of partners, including cafes, gyms and co-working spaces.

It plans to open touch points at 300 locations, compared with 50 at present, Mr Jou said, adding that it would also invest in machine learning and automation to bring down costs and increase customisation for customers.

"In the app, customers will be able see styles that are aligned with their personal style and budget," he said.

Pomelo raised US$19 million in a Series B round in November 2017, and has since opened a flagship store in the Orchard Road shopping district.

The start-up has expanded its product offerings to include Purpose, an eco-friendly collection, Beet cosmetics and Pomelo Man, its menswear label.

REUTERS, THE BUSINESS TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2019, with the headline 'Thai fashion start-up Pomelo raises $72m to add stores in Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe