Online fashion retailer Dafiti said on Tuesday it will receive $70 million from Canada’s Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, in a cash-for-equity transaction that shows resilient investor interest in e-commerce in Brazil.
In a statement, Wayne Kozun, a senior vice president at Teachers,’ as the pension fund is known, cited “a growing middle class, huge consumption potential and significant growth in online and mobile access” as reasons for the Dafiti investment.
Dafiti, Brazil’s answer to Zappos, the popular shoe and fashion retailer owned by Amazon, is undeterred by high inflation, soaring household debt and the other economic woes that could crimp consumer sentiment.
“When we look at Brazil, we don’t think only of GDP growth, but also a middle class and disposable income that continue to grow,” Philipp Povel, one of Dafiti’s founders, said in an interview.
Dafiti – a startup launched in 2011 with help from German incubator Rocket Internet – has, with the Teachers’ investment, now raised a total of $255 million. The company has also received $65 million from New York-based Quadrant Capital Advisors and $45 million from JP Morgan Asset Management.
The investments have enabled the retailer, based in Sao Paulo, to consolidate its position as Brazil’s top online fashion outlet, with 30 percent of the market. Dafiti has also ventured into other big Latin American markets, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.
The overall size of the Latin American market for Dafiti is worth more than $100 billion, Povel said.
“We just need to capture a little bit of that and then we will be a multibillion dollar company,” he said.
Dafiti said the Teachers’ investment would help expand its catalog in those markets, as well as increase warehouse capacity and automate operations.