Photographer: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

‘EBay of Antiques’ CEO Predicts U.K. Sellers Benefit From Brexit

  • Sellers in U.K. can get more money when selling products in EU
  • Also started ad campaign on tv in Netherlands, Italy, France

Catawiki, the Dutch collectibles auction website rated by Deloitte LLP as the world’s fastest-growing tech startup between 2011 and 2015, expects business in the U.K. to increase after the country decided in favor of a departure from the European Union last month. 

Meanwhile, the company is expanding television advertising to the Netherlands, Italy and France to increase interest from potential sellers and buyers across Europe.

Rene Schoenmakers, right, and Marco Jansen
Rene Schoenmakers, right, and Marco Jansen
Source: Catawiki

“Sellers in the U.K. are probably going to offer more products now,” Rene Schoenmakers, Chief Executive Officer of Catawiki, said during an interview Monday. “We have a really strong brand name for them to other countries in the EU where bids are made in euros. That’s extra interesting to them as they can get more money for their products.”

The pound fell to its weakest level in three decades against the dollar on Tuesday, and sank to its lowest since 2013 against the euro as evidence piled up that the Brexit vote is hurting confidence in the U.K. economy.

Stamps, Yachts

Catawiki auctions items ranging from rare stamps and coins, to jewelery, artwork, classic cars and yachts, under the supervision of professional auctioneers.

The website focuses on the market segment between eBay -- which extends to bulk goods -- and traditional auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s. It reports 12 million visitors per month and typically offers 30,000 lots per week, for a minimum of 75 euros ($84) to as much as 200,000 euros per lot. The company charges a buyer 9 percent, including tax, and the seller 12.5 percent for servicing the auction.

Besides the start of its advertising campaign it recently added Danish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish to the available languages on its website to reach potential buyers in those countries.

The company started in 2008 in Assen, a city with about 70,000 citizens in the northeast of the Netherlands, which is most famous for its motorcycle race circuit TT Assen. Schoenmakers, who used to collect comic books, and his co-founder Marco Jansen, a computer programmer, started by building a catalog for comic books to which users added content themselves. It expanded into auctions of comics in 2011 after Schoenmakers felt he had built a substantial target audience through the catalog.

“Now we have a much broader proposition of things that aren’t available on every street corner and which are really special. That’s what we really want to auction,” Schoenmakers said in an interview at the company’s offices in Amsterdam in June.

To reach its global ambition it is now using the funds from its most recent financing round for online and televised marketing campaigns and aims to hire an additional 300 software developers, customer service employees and auctioneers this year. 

The company most recently raised $82 million in a Series C funding round led by Lead Edge Capital, in 2015. Previous investors Accel Partners, as well as Project A Ventures and others, also participated in this latest round.

By expanding internationally and by deepening the offerings in the markets and categories in which it’s already active, the company expects to maintain strong growth.

“As we want to be a global player, I think we can keep growing a lot for a long time,” Schoenmakers said.

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