The Polish company Oponeo proves that international e-commerce can also be successful in a specialized market.
The company was founded in Bydgoszcz in 2003 when online sales were gaining popularity. Its history, however, began in 1999, when the web portal opony.com.pl was established. Only two years later it started with great success selling tires and rims via the Internet, as the store became profitable after just 14 months. The company also started building its own IT solutions, building a broad platform for its products. In the meantime, Opony.com was renamed Oponeo.pl as we know it today.
In 2007 Oponeo debuted on the stock exchange, the price oscillated around $1.75-$2, but the company’s shares went up twice in a dozen months. Of course, with the onset of the global financial crisis, Oponeo’s price dropped sharply, like many other companies on the stock exchange, to around $1.25. The rebound came in 2009 when the company started launching the first foreign online tire stores – in Spain, France, Germany, and Italy. Currently, the company operates in 13 countries, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Ireland, Slovakia, Turkey, Great Britain, and Hungary. Orders from the entire capital group are carried out thanks to a modern logistics center with 2 ha, which can send 35 thousand tires to individual customers. The company also operates in two American states – Nevada and California.
However, the foreign expansion still accounts for a smaller share of the group’s revenues. In 2017, foreign markets brought only $37.75M in revenues, while the domestic market – $139M. It was a bit better year later – $45.5M (+20%) and $165M (+18%), respectively. In 2019, the group’s total sales amounted to $240.5M, with 3.7M tires sold and well over 100,000 rims.
However, the presence in foreign markets turned out to be one of the critical elements during the pandemic. Strong position in many countries made the effects of COVID-19 less severe than expected. In 2020, sales of passenger car tires increased by 16.8% in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Ireland. In the case of the UK and Germany, which are the most important sales markets for Oponeo outside Poland, the dynamics were 23.8% and 84%, respectively.
Oponeo is expanding not only geographically, but also in other industries – the company owns, among others, Dadelo – a platform for selling bicycles and bicycle parts, which debuted on the Warsaw Stock Exchange in December 2020. On the stock exchange, Oponeo is currently worth about $177M.