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Fashion e-tailer Zalando eyes growth acceleration in 2021: CFO

FILE PHOTO: The logo of fashion retailer Zalando is pictured at the new headquarters in Berlin, Germany, April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) – German fashion e-tailer Zalando ZALG.DE sees growth accelerating next year, Chief Financial Officer David Schroeder said on Thursday, after struggling to meet a surge in demand in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The imposition of lockdowns in the spring pushed many shoppers online and Berlin-based Zalando raised its guidance for growth in gross merchandise value in 2020 to 25%-27% when it reported strong third-quarter results this month.

“For next year I can promise that we will be prepared for accelerated growth,” Schroeder told the Morgan Stanley European Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.

Europe’s biggest pure-play online fashion retailer is undergoing a transition from a wholesale to a platform model where it enables direct-to-consumer sales by brands like Nike NKE.N and backs that up with order fulfillment.

That shift will make it easier to scale up deliveries in response to shifts in demand, Schroeder said, adding that in its incarnation as a wholesaler Zalando had to source inventory as much as a year in a advance.

While he expects demand tailwinds caused by a second wave of COVID-19 infections to fade, structural changes such as a consumer shift from offline to online shopping and more direct sales by brands are set to persist.

“Our strategy is the right one for the pandemic but also for what comes beyond,” Schroeder said.

Zalando shares are up 75% in the year to date, valuing the business at 20.3 billion euros ($24 billion).

($1 = 0.8448 euros)

Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mark Potter

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