Innovation

The Catch Group to launch new online venture: Gabby Leibovich tells all

Yolanda Redrup /

The company behind Australia’s number one e-commerce site will be launching its next online venture early next year, as the group celebrates its seventh birthday this week.

The Catch Group, which owns online e-commerce stores Catch of the Day, Mumgo, Scoopon, EatNow and Grocery Run, now has a turnover of $350 million.

Backed by James Packer and Seek’s Andrew Bassat, the group specialises in selling goods cheaply in a daily deals format, while EatNow is a home delivery food service and Scoopon is a group-buying site.

It was reported in The Australian today the group were likely to launch a sports apparel site, but The Catch Group’s co-founder Gabby Leibovich told SmartCompany no such decision has been made, although a new site will be launching.

“We haven’t confirmed that we’re launching a sports apparel site,” he says.

“We’re looking to launch another site in the early New Year after we get out of the Christmas rush. We’re always looking at opportunities for growth and they get presented to us on a daily basis.”

Leibovich says while no decisions have been made yet as to which category the company will enter, sports goods have been selling well on CatchOfTheDay.

“Until a year ago we didn’t feature any sporting goods on the site, but 12 months ago we started purchasing a lot of sporting apparel from overseas and if I had to pick a category which was selling particularly well, it would be this one,” he says.

“Everyone is out there getting healthy and fit and sportswear is very fashionable at the moment. There isn’t a week which goes by where we don’t have sales in that category.”

Leibovich says ultimately everything sells well on Catch of the Day.

“If the price is right, we find customers are always ready to buy,” he says.

“People ask why we’ve done so well online while others haven’t, but we simply have better deals than anybody else out there because we’re better buyers.”

The group has increased its subscribers by almost 50% over the past year, largely driven by its growing mobile presence.

“We have about 3.5 million followers and about 1 million of these follow us on their mobiles through the apps,” Leibovich says.

Catch of the Day, the company’s first and largest online retailer, sees 62% of all its transactions coming through mobile platforms and 7% of orders now also come through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The group sells on average one item every second.

Leibovich says through the past seven years one of his greatest difficulties has been dealing with suppliers.

“We’re running a pure play e-commerce site, we’re retailers, but unfortunately suppliers over the past 100 years have only dealt with bricks and mortar stores, they’re stuck in old ways and are afraid of change,” he says.

“They’re afraid of the heat being thrown at them from the regular bricks and mortar stores if they deal with us, but it’s a war we’re going to win, even though it’s taken longer than we wanted it too.”

Leibovich says difficulties in getting suppliers to want to work with e-commerce sites has resulted in The Catch Group sourcing 50% of its products locally and 50% from the United States and Asia.

“Ideally I’d love to purchase everything from Australian distributors,” he says.

Leibovich says it’s taken him 40 years of hard work to become on overnight success.

“When we launched it we were in a garage and then we moved from the garage to a 200m squared place with six people,” he says.

“We’ve learnt a lot of lessons and made a lot of mistakes and we’ve had to change to deal with these on a daily basis. Add to this a bit of luck, hard work and good timing, mix it all together and here we are.”

His best piece of advice to business owners is to admit to their mistakes.

“You make a lot of them every day, but if you refuse to admit to them, you won’t be able to wake up the next morning and try and change it,” he says.

“We realised we’ve been running our warehouse operations in a stupid way for a number of years, but we recognised it required extra attention and the results have spoken for themselves.”

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