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IPOs

Coupang rival Market Kurly also eyes US IPO in 2021

By Mar 12, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Market Kurly CEO Sophie Kim during a January 2020 interview with The Korea Economic Daily 
Market Kurly CEO Sophie Kim during a January 2020 interview with The Korea Economic Daily 

Following the successful IPO debut of South Korea’s e-commerce giant Coupang Corp., its smaller, premium local rival Market Kurly is also considering a US listing within this year – according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

In an interview with Market Kurly CEO Sophie Kim, the US newspaper reported on Mar. 11 that the company is in discussions with bankers to go public in 2021.

The startup had previously raised more than 400 billion won ($354 million) in five funding rounds -- with its latest Series E funding in April last year receiving a combined investment of $150 million from Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse Capital and DST Global with a valuation at 950 billion won ($840 million)

Market Kurly is an online grocery and gourmet food delivery company founded in 2014 by Kim, who spent more than 10 years working for Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and Temasek as an investment banker and consultant.

The company quickly gained market share with the introduction of its overnight "dawn delivery" service in 2015.

Meanwhile, market competition has intensified with Shinsegae’s online mall SSG.com and SoftBank-backed Coupang also adopting early-hour delivery services.

Despite the heated rivalry, Market Kurly retains a strong customer base among homemakers and working moms with its meticulously curated range of farm-to-table food offerings.

“Every single thing that we are selling on our platform is something that I would personally buy with my own money,” Kim said in the Wall Street Journal interview.

It is widely known among Korean consumers that the young CEO personally tastes every product before putting the items on the online marketplace.

Market Kurly CEO Kim at the Korean Investment Festival 2020, hosted by The Korea Economic Daily
Market Kurly CEO Kim at the Korean Investment Festival 2020, hosted by The Korea Economic Daily

According to the article, more than 60% of first-time customers return to Market Kurly, outperforming the industry average of about 29%.

Kim said that she plans to keep the company’s focus on food instead of diversifying into other product categories.

“Fashion is one area where we won’t be touching because, how are you going to curate the best T-shirt? I don’t think I can find a way to do that,” said Kim during the interview.

Write to Bora Kim at destinybr@hankyung.com

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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