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One of the pioneers of North Macedonian e-commerce Grouper gets acquired

Image credit: Nina Angelovska, co-founder and former CEO of the startup
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North Macedonian e-commerce startup Grouper announced today that it was acquired by Polish company Payten, which specializes in payment industry solutions. Grouper will be joining the Asseco SEE group, one of the biggest banking and payment operators in SEE that unites banking company Asseco SEE and Payten. Currently, Grouper is used by over 270,000 customers in North Macedonia. “There is a great synergy between Grouper and Payten that can enable both companies to grow and thrive while having an impact on the whole region and the e-commerce ecosystem,” shared Nina Angelovska, co-founder and former CEO of Grouper with The Recursive.

“Grouper adds to our portfolio of international eCommerce solutions and this acquisition represents a powerful synergy and big plans to speed up Grouper growth in the Region. We are looking forward to giving local merchants of all sizes, including foreign brands the opportunity to sell online via the Grouper Marketplace using our platform and excellent marketing services. For Grouper this means reaching a new milestone too. We are excited to invest and leverage technology, offering our community of buyers, and sellers, AI-driven search engines, more efficient onboarding and support, a transparent checkout process, as well as leverage security and trust of payment and delivery option. Stay tuned for more news from our team,” commented Katharina Arnold, Katharina Arnold Rokita, Payten E-commerce Development Lead.

Developing the North Macedonian e-commerce market

Grouper was among the first players at the local e-commerce market. The startup was founded in 2011 by Angelovska, Former Minister of Finance of North Macedonia, founder and current President of the Macedonian e-commerce Association. She was joined by Martin Kitanovski, CMO of the company, who has previously co-founded 2 other startups – Kadevecer and Smart Invest Group, and Aleksandar Simonovski, CTO of Grouper.

Throughout the years, the company contributed to the development of the local market by launching the first deal platform in the country and grew its portfolio to offer discounts for different services such as online shopping and food delivery, as well as travel packages. Recently, the startup also launched a marketplace platform (Grouper Shopping Mall), thus gathering over 100 e-shops on its platform and working with around 3500 local merchants. 

With the local e-commerce market booming around the pandemic, data from the Macedonian e-commerce Association states that 40.1% of people with access to the Internet committed to shopping online in 2020, representing an increase of 4% compared to 2019 and almost 20% as to the 2017 online shopping transactions. 

Part of a big family

With the deal, Payten practically acquired 100% of Grouper’s shares, thus enhancing its portfolio of e-commerce solutions and further expanding its presence in the North Macedonian market. Operating in SEE Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Columbia, Peru, Dominican Republic and Egypt, the company works with non-financial and financial institutions. Its portfolio also includes solutions for mobile payments and processing and ATM and POS-associated services. According to company data, Payten processes over 65 million e-commerce transactions per month. The Polish company is also part of the Payment Business Unit of Asseco SEE Group and currently employs over 1500 people worldwide. 

E-commerce companies in the region getting noticed

Although it brought about an economic slowdown in many traditional sectors, the pandemic led to accelerated digitization of shopping and proved to be a major booster of customer interest in e-commerce platforms. According to data, revenue from e-commerce in Europe is expected to reach $465B in 2021, with the largest segment accounting for Fashion. The SEE region has also seen developments in accordance with the trend,. Local e-commerce players have started attracting the attention of bigger players at the market, leading to deals, investments, and acquisitions. 

Stay tuned for our interview with Nina Angelovska, discussing the e-commerce trends and the developments in the North Macedonian market.

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Viktoria is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive and a sophomore-standing student at the American University in Bulgaria. Combining her Business Administration studies while mapping the Southeastern European startup ecosystem is a positive-sum game for her as she has the chance to interact with the most active entrepreneurs in the region. Her favorite topics include venture capital structures, investments, as well as innovations in the scitech and fintech sectors.