Exclusive: Alabbar says Noon to move base to Saudi, launch in 2017

E-commerce giant adds new management, founding partner confirms
Mohamed Alabbar, founding partner of noon and chairman of Emaar
By Anil Bhoyrul
Tue 16 May 2017 02:51 PM

Mohamed Alabbar has confirmed that his e-commerce platform noon is to relocate its permanent base to Riyadh after going live later this year.

In a statement released, Alabbar – who is also chairman of Emaar, said: “Following the launch of noon, our permanent operational base will be in Riyadh, and we are currently scaling up our resourcing and operations there. This allows us an excellent opportunity to bring into the organisation some of best new young Saudi talent working in this field.”

Noon is being launched with $1bn of financial backing — half coming from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, with the remaining 50 percent owned by Alabbar himself and a group of GCC investors. It is expected to launch with several million products available to customers.

Alabbar also revealed in the statement that the management team is being strengthened ahead of the launch, saying: “We are excited by what our team has been able to achieve in a short time. In the past few months, we have onboarded additional expertise to enhance our management team and help execute on our plans.”

He said: “I am pleased to confirm that noon is on track to launch this year. Our beta programme has been very insightful, and all the feedback we received from our early customers has allowed us to test and refine our technology and fulfilment model…Noon will lead the way in regional e-commerce.

"We aim to deliver a market-leading customer experience by leveraging great supplier relationships, reliable technology, robust payment systems, and highly scalable fulfillment infrastructure.”

But Alabbar also made clear that the platform would not go live until he was fully satisfied with its quality and delivery systems.

“We are establishing strategic partnerships with an extensive range of regional retailers, distributors and global brands. These partnerships will allow noon to provide its customers with a broad catalogue of product across categories.

"With noon, we aim to deliver an e-commerce platform that creates long-term economic value, is truly relevant to the region and supports its home-grown enterprises,” he said, adding: “It is vital that all our systems and processes work at the highest possible level. The coming months will be spent to ensure this, particularly with some of the many supply chain innovations we have been developing.”

Currently, e-commerce accounts for just 2 percent of total retail sales in the region, or around $3bn. By 2025, the e-commerce market is expected to be worth $70bn a year.

Noon is building the world’s largest warehouse to store its products, adjacent to Dubai’s second airport, Al Maktoum International. It will be the size of 60 football pitches. Similar centres are planned in Saudi Arabia and later across the region, as Noon launches first in the UAE and Saudi Arabia before moving across the Middle East.

Alabbar said: “Noon has the potential to disrupt the nascent e-commerce market in the region. I would like to thank our partners, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, for their continued support and guidance through this process, and our highly dedicated team of experts from a variety of fields, now working around the clock as we translate our vision into reality."

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