Saudi technology start-up Retailo raises $36m to boost expansion

New capital will be used to expand into new geographies, verticals and products, the company said

From left, Mohammed Nowkhaiz, Talha Ansari and Wahaj Ahmed, co-founders of Saudi start-up Retailo. Photo: Retailo
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Saudi technology start-up Retailo raised $36 million in its latest funding round, which will allow the company to expand into new markets and add more products to its portfolio.

The funding round, which is a mix of equity and venture debt, was led by Silicon Valley-based Graphene Ventures, with participation from other investors including 500 Global, Agility, Aujan, Tech Invest Com and Mentor’s Fund.

The new capital will help Retailo to expand into “new geographies, verticals and products”, the company said.

Founded in 2020, Riyadh-headquartered Retailo is a business-to-business platform that works with hundreds of brands to help them digitise their retail supply chains.

As global supply chains come under stress, pushing up commodity prices and depressing GDP growth, the value of smart supply chains becomes even more important
Talha Ansari, Retailo’s chief executive

“As global supply chains come under stress, pushing up commodity prices and depressing GDP [gross domestic product] growth, the value of smart supply chains becomes even more important,” Retailo’s chief executive Talha Ansari said.

“The retail sector serves 700 million persons in Menap [Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan], contributes almost 20 per cent to the GDP and employs tens of millions. By providing technology solutions to this underserved market, we are not only improving lives but also uplifting the economy of the entire Menap region.”

Retail industry in the Menap region, which is worth $500 billion, consists of over 10 million small businesses, Retailo said.

However, most of the retail industry is informal and undigitised, and small businesses have to rely on inefficient supply chains and limited financial resources while operating on low margins. Retailo intends to help these small businesses by building technology suites for them.

It has built a B2B community commerce platform that is currently used by more than 50,000 retailers every month.

“We are impressed with what Retailo has achieved in an astonishingly short time. Their vision is both ambitious and inspiring and we believe that partnering with them is a sound business investment,” Nabil A Borhanu, partner at Graphene Ventures, said.

Having raised a total investment of $45m in less than 18 months of operations, Retailo has scaled its business to more than 10 cities in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan.

On Retailo’s mobile platform, small businesses can find a wide catalogue of more than 5,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) that are delivered to their doorstep in less than 24 hours. They can also take advantage of buy-now-pay-later services, which give them flexible payment options and credit lines.

It also provides data analytics services to sellers to help them evaluate sales performance and consumption trends.

“The multimarket strategy from day one was unconventional and challenging … Covid made it even more so,” Himag Vaidya, Retailo’s head of strategy, said.

“But now Retailo is a scalable organisation with hundreds of millions of dollars in annualised revenue and colleagues from multiple nationalities and diverse backgrounds … building technology that empowers 10 million retailers in the region.”

Updated: February 02, 2022, 3:55 AM