It’s a busy day for eCommerce news! End-to-end eCommerce firm Huboo is on the way to reaching unicorn status!

Fast-growing e-commerce firm Huboo’s head office in Bristol seems like a fun place to work.

Its premises on Corn Street in the Old City includes a climbing wall, pool table, bar, events space that hosted the Bristol tech festival, and a mini studio for the in-house radio station.

Co-founder Martin Bysh jokes his colleague Paul Dodd had wanted a slide to be installed between the floors of the building, which has a view of the gothic skyline from the rooftop balcony.

The building next door, Gilbert House, was also recently leased to the company, enabling it to expand its HQ – with plans for the bottom floor to be rented out as a cocktail bar.

Perhaps this could be expected for a business recently named among the best places to work in Europe and previously hired its own corporate bard to tell stories of the company and its staff’s achievements in song?

Looking around, it’s hard to believe that Huboo, whose technology enables online retailers to quickly access and complete end-to-end fulfilment operations, was launched less than five years ago from two secure storage rooms at a Safestore in Bath.

Given the incredible rise of the company, not least a 2021 packed with milestone achievements, you wonder when anyone at Huboo would have any time to factor in a frame of pool or a spot of climbing.

In February, it opened its fourth warehouse in and around the Bristol area at South West logistics hub Avonmouth, where it created hundreds of jobs.

In June, it began to scale its ‘micro hub model’ into Europe, opening its first site outside the UK in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

Then, in September, it announced it was set to open a 4,200 sq mt logistics centre in the Spanish capital Madrid, with plans to roll out its services across multiple European markets over the next year.

This will be funded by a £60m investment raised during a Series B round, led by Mubadala Capital, the financial investment arm of an Emirati state-owned sovereign wealth fund, which the business closed in October.

Huboo’s meteoric rise hasn’t gone unnoticed. It was recently crowned Large Business of the Year at the BristolLive Business Awards.

It was also identified in a Government report as one of three companies within Bristol’s burgeoning tech sector expected to attain a ‘unicorn’ valuation of more than $1bn over the coming years.

Around the table in the boardroom, Mr Bysh, Huboo’s chief executive, explains the firm’s longer-term expansion plans are not merely confined to Europe.

“We do [have ambitions to scale to the US], but not on this round. Everything for us is funding driven. Right now The Netherlands is done and working, Spain we’re just setting up, just signing off on the warehouse in Madrid.

“Germany, we have identified where we want to be. So that’s hopefully going to come online towards the end of [2021]. It won’t be fully functional but hopefully we will have a warehouse in place in Germany. And the plan is to do something like another 10 [in 2022]. And that’s basically Europe done.

“We might set up a few smaller bases in some of these additional countries. But in the midst of this roll out about eight months from now, we will probably seek funding again for the States. It’s an expensive business going into the States so another round and we’ll head over there, whilst Europe continues to roll out.”

Mr Bysh, a former computer games programmer who previously ran a market research company, says it is “weird and difficult” to reflect on the journey Huboo has been on since its formative days.

“I don’t quite believe it now. We intended to be where we are now, but did we ever really believe we would? I mean, you have to be sensible about these things, the odds are always against you. Fundamentally, it’s been about funding and willingness to take risks.”

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