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SSENSE store display in Montreal.

Handout

Canadian e-commerce retailer Ssense has announced a minority investment from Sequoia Capital, which the retailer says values the company at $5-billion following the receipt of funds.

Montreal-based Ssense, which sells high-end and designer fashions online, was founded by brothers Rami, Firas, and Bassel Atallah in 2003. Its website now ships to more than 150 countries, and has expanded to sell other items such as housewares, tech goods, and pet accessories.

This is the first time the retailer, whose corporate name is Atallah International Inc., has raised external funding. Ssense did not disclose a dollar figure for Sequoia’s investment.

Story continues below advertisement

Demand for e-commerce services has spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating the growth in Canadians’ online shopping habits to a level many retailers did not expect to see for at least another two to three years. The e-commerce acceleration has driven up valuations of companies such as retail software provider Shopify Inc.

The funding will go toward the company’s global expansion plans, including its goal to grow the site’s presence in China. Sequoia Capital China venture partner Angelica Cheung will join the board of directors at Ssense.

SSENSE founders; Left to Right: Bassel Atallah, Firas Atallah, Rami Atallah.

ROYAL PHOTO location@royalphoto.com/Handout

Ssense joins at least 13 other Canadian companies that have become so-called “unicorns,” or startup companies valued at US$1-billion or more, since last summer, marking an unprecedented run of prosperity for the country’s technology sector fuelled by record levels of private capital funding globally. The list includes Vancouver-based Trulioo Information Services Inc., which said Monday it had inked a US$394-million financing led by Silicon Valley private capital giant TCV. Others include Wealthsimple Inc., semiconductor startups Tenstorrent Inc. and Alphawave IP Group PLC, Michele Romanow’s Clear Finance Technology Corp. and COVID-19 antibody developer AbCellera Biologics Inc.

“We’ve found a like-minded partner who shares our belief in pushing boundaries as we advance in our next stages of growth,” Ssense co-founder and chief executive officer Rami Atallah said in a statement Tuesday.

Ssense says its e-commerce site currently attracts 100 million page views monthly, and roughly 80 per cent of its visitors are between the ages of 18 and 40.

“The partnership represents another solid step in our efforts in supporting the fashion industry’s digitalization, backing visionary founders to transform and elevate the global fashion e-commerce experience to a new level,” Neil Shen, Sequoia Capital China’s founding and managing partner, said in a statement.

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