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Vancouver luggage retailer Monos lands US$30m investment

Online-only retailer readies to open first store in Kitsilano
victortamMONOS
Monos CEO Victor Tam holds a box containing some of his company's luggage.

Fast-growing Vancouver-based luggage manufacturer and seller Monos has landed a US$30-million investment to increase inventory, develop new products, hire staff and open retail stores.

The online-only retailer recently moved into a head office on Manitoba Street and has signed a lease to open its first store in Kitsilano.

Venn Growth Partners led the Series B investment round, in which Strand Equity and Michele Romanow also participated. Venn Growth and Strand Equity in December pumped US$10 million into Monos. 

Cameron Pollard, a partner at Venn Growth, told BIV this morning that the two equity investments were similarly sized and that they combine to be for less than half of the shares in the company. 

If the equity stakes were both 20 per cent, the company's valuation in December would have been US$50 million, with that increasing to be around US$150 million today.

Monos launched in mid-2019 and generated about US$1 million in revenue in its first six months, CEO Victor Tam told BIV earlier this year. It then increased sales by more than 300% annually in each of 2020 and 2021. Tam earlier this year said he expected his company's annual sales growth rate to slow, but he expected sales to hit US$50 million in 2022.

"This is on the back of awesome products, awesome margins, profitability – all the things you hope to see," Pollard said today.

He added that Monos has bolstered its board of directors by adding Marcello Bottoli, a former CEO of Samsonite, Louis Vuitton and Pandora. 

Bottoli, along with Ares Management, Bain Capital Partners and Teachers' Private Capital, helped turn around Samsonite from being near bankruptcy in 2003, to being sold to CVC Capital Partners Group in 2007 in a deal valued at US$1.7 billion.

Pollard, who is also on the board of directors, said that the board is "active" in its advice to Tam and that he and Tam speak almost every day. 

Monos' story started in spring 2018, after Tam bought a suitcase online and was disappointed with the quality, he said.

He had a background designing items and selling them online, so he called on friends he had known since childhood – Hubert Chan and Daniel Shin – to join him building a new venture selling luggage online.

The trio invested about US$550,000 to create Monos, and spent much of the next year attending luggage conventions, designing suitcases and investigating potential Chinese factories that could manufacture their products, Tam told BIV earlier this year. 

Sales started in 2019 for two items that each came in two sizes, and in multiple colours.

The trio bought online advertising, and watched sales roll in.

The venture survived the pandemic by adding clothing and disinfecting wands, but most of its sales remained luggage. 

gkorstrom@biv.com

twitter.com/GlenKorstrom