Hong Kong fashion e-commerce start-up Grana lands US$1.5m funding as it eyes Asia expansion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 July, 2015, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 July, 2015, 4:19pm

A Hong Kong-based fashion start-up that sells casual clothing through its e-commerce platform has raised US$1 million from investors including Singapore’s Golden Gate Ventures. 

In addition to an earlier seed round from luxury retailer Bluebell Group, this brings the start-up's total funding above US$2.5 million. 

A Grana spokeswoman confirmed the funding news, initially reported by an American tech blog, to the South China Morning Post on Wednesday. 

The new funding will be used to expand Grana's platform into new markets. 

"We're pretty established here in Hong Kong, but there's definitely room to grow in Southeast Asia through Singapore, and the US," said communications director Crystal Chen. 

She said that Singapore was a "natural next city" for the firm, which opened its Hong Kong warehouse in mid-2014. 

Grana ships clothing like shirts, jeans, and tank tops to customers around the world, including the US, Australia and France. Its products are aggressively priced, thanks to partnerships with producers and logistics providers such as DHL. 

"I asked myself, ‘Where is the best place to set up a global distribution centre?’” Australian entrepreneur and and company founder Luke Grana told the Post last year.

“I looked at Asos, and how they ship everything from England to the global market. I also looked at Singapore and the US. But Hong Kong was the best choice.”

Chen described the e-commerce market in Hong Kong as "barely existent" and said that Asia is full of opportunity, but that Grana must work harder to reach out to and educate customers. 

"People [in Hong Kong] don't trust brands that sell exclusively online," she said. 

"There's no habit of buying in bulk and returning what you don't want." 

Chen said the firm has focused on pop-up stores and multichannel retailing, similar to how US eyewear brand Warby Parker first grew its billion-dollar business.

This helps it circumvent Hong Kong’s notoriously high rental costs. While prices in the city have fallen in recent months, they still rank among the highest in the world for retail and office space. 

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba and internet service portal Tencent have also invested in the online-to-offline (O2O) strategy being embraced by companies like Grana and Warby Parker.

Grana is not currently active on the Chinese mainland, though Chen said it had plans to ship products there in the near future.