Trading web is winning big business

Gabby Leibovich (right), with brother Hezi. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

GABBY Leibovich says he sometimes wonders if the Melbourne-based online empire he has built from nothing with his brother Hezi is real – and that it is true he runs a juggernaut internet shop worth perhaps $A100 million this financial year.

The offices of the Catch of the Day web-shop are in the back streets of Moorabbin among factories and brothels. The vast warehouse out the back seems to stretch forever.

In an upstairs meeting room – the ”playroom” – the Leibovich brothers have put in funky furniture and a hammock. ”We wanted it to feel like one of those American internet start-up companies you see on TV,” says Gabby Leibovich, 40, ”the Amazon offices or Google or Facebook. 

”I feel like I’m the actor in my own movie,” he says. ”I feel like this is just a story I’m reading in a magazine.”

For the week ended New Year’s Day, according to internet researchers Hitwise, Catch of the Day was the most popular shopping website in Australia in the ”department stores” category, a new upstart well ahead of the old guard: Big W, Kmart, Myer, Target and David Jones. Second on the ladder was Deals Direct, an online store in Sydney. Another three online-only enterprises – selling everything from sunglasses to TVs with no ”shops”, no sales assistants and millions of customers – also made the list in a sure sign that modern shopping habits signal a major cultural shift.

In the war being played out between the Myer-led coalition of traditional Australian retailers and the onliners from overseas they see as a tax-exempt scourge, the likes of Catch of the Day are insurgent guerillas – sneaking in, raiding, and winning. Online spending grew 12 per cent in Australia in 2010, while traditional retail spending fell. Analysts say domestic spending makes up most of the rise.

Read the full article by Chris Johnston here...

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