Brazilian Arezzo&Co, a group that brings together the fashion brands Arezzo, Schutz, Anacapri, Alexandre Birman, Fiever, Alme, and Vans, announced on Friday the acquisition of 75% of the startup TROC, an online thrift store, and its debut into the billionaire second-hand clothes market. The startup’s purchase also marks the launch of ZZ Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of one of Latin America’s largest fashion groups. The mapping of the next startups and scale-ups to receive investment from Arezzo&Co will count on the support of Endeavor, a global network formed by the fastest growing entrepreneurs in the world.
TROC was founded in 2017 in the capital of Paraná state, Curitiba – also home to LABS – by the entrepreneur Luanna Toniolo. Today, the business that started with just over 5,000 pieces in stock in a 20 square meter commercial room is a platform with more than 40,000 clothes and accessories that works in a 1,000 square meter warehouse. Its business model centered on connecting AB class sellers and buyers interested in purchasing luxury fashion items for up to 30% of the original value now provides the same service for large companies in the Brazilian fashion industry.
This is how TROC trod the path – in only a few weeks – until being be acquired by Arezzo&Co.
“As we developed our business so that it was scalable, we began to understand that, with our market know-how and our clientele, that we could be a tool to provide a service of reverse logistics for major brands. That is, what we did for individuals we started doing for companies too so that they could think about post-consumption, making the so-called circular economy happen,” said Toniolo in an interview with LABS.
In July, TROC started providing this service to Reserva – a fashion company that brings together four brands and is a minority investor in TROC. In October, TROC also started to provide the same service to Arezzo&Co – which announced the purchase of Reserva for BRL 715 million that same month.
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After the acquisition process – which still depends on the approval of Brazil’s antitrust watchdog Cade – is finished, the startup will also sell its second-hand products on the marketplace recently launched by Arezzo&Co, called ZZ Mall. The marketplace brings together the 13 brands of the group (already counting Reserva’s brands) and 30 other partner brands, such as Vivara, TVZ, and mOb, among others.
“We started the partnership (through the namesake brand of Arezzo) with TROC a few weeks ago, and as we were negotiating the acquisition and several other players were also looking at the startup, we didn’t want to call attention to this partnership. But the numbers we had confirmed TROC’s potential: we registered over 30,000 visits to our website from customers seeking TROC’s resale solution, and Luanna (Toniolo) has already received more than 5,000 pieces of clothing from Arezzo,” Arezzo & Co’s Director of Strategy, M&A and Investor Relations, Aline Penna, told LABS.
With the acquisition and integration of TROC with the brands of Arezzo&Co, the startup will have access to a customer base 40 times larger than it has today. In all, Penna explains that the group’s brands have around 10 million registered customers, 4 million extremely loyal.
Penna points out that there are several possibilities to be explored within the marketplace initiative. “We can partner with ZZ Mall brands so that they have physical collection points for TROC. We can also pass on pieces from old collections of our own brands and samples of products that we use in our franchisees’ showrooms and that we don’t resell because they are manipulated pieces. There are many possibilities to be explored”.
Arezzo&Co does not reveal the amount paid for the startup, but in a conference call with investors, the company said that TROC’s sales “are below BRL 10 million”. Arezzo&Co acquired TROC’s stakes that belonged to personal investors and venture capital funds such as Honey Island – created by the founders of the global fintech EBANX, owner of LABS. Reserva’s share at TROC remains at 8%.
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Algorithms for pricing and calculating the “salability” of clothing
From 2017 until today, TROC saw its staff increase from 20 to 45 employees. As a startup, the idea is that this number will grow at least five times in the coming years. The analysis of the clothes that arrive at TROC to be resold is the great mission of this team. But the startup also counts on technology to improve this job and already has a series of automated processes.
“Through studies, we managed to optimize this receipt of pieces of clothing. We have algorithms that help us do the pricing of these pieces and also indicate their ‘salability’ index – we choose to have products that we know will be sold quickly,” said Toniolo, who points out that, even with the startup’s acquisition by Arezzo&Co and the growth that may come from that, TROC will continue to be based in the Brazilian southern city of Curitiba.
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Retail and technology: the focus of Arezzo&Co’s corporate venture arm
In practice, the partnership with Endeavor for the selection and acceleration of startups and scale-ups for ZZ Ventures, the branch of corporate venture capital also launched this Friday by Arezzo&Co, begins in January 2021. But the priorities for the first year of activities are already set: retail (new concepts, mainly) and technologies for retail (retail techs).
“We are not necessarily going to buy startups. TROC’s case was specific because we already had a synergy between Arezzo and TROC. But we will accelerate, mentor, and help startups with the development of their MVP (minimum viable product), and then (maybe) invest (on them,)” explains Penna.
Arezzo&Co’s board approved a BRL 30 million budget for the first year of ZZ Ventures, but, in practice, this amount can be even larger.