Rakuten acquires UK e-commerce portal Play.com

Play.com: third European company acquired by Rakuten.com

Rakuten continues global battle with Amazon.com

On September 21, 2011, Rakuten announced acquisition of 100% of the UK e-commerce portal site Play.com for UKL 25 million (approx. US$ 40 million).

Rakuten’s acquisition of Play.com (UK) follows the acquisitions of PriceMinister (France) and Tradoria (Germany).


Play.com sells music, books, clothes, accessories and electronics, and has 14 million registered users and 7 million listed products. Play.com is the largest UK online seller of DVDs.
Play.com has approximately 500 employees.

Play.com was founded in 1998 on Jersey (Channel Islands) by Richard Goulding, Simon Perrée and Peter de Bourcier – all 28 years old – in backrooms of the local Athlete’s Foot store, run by Play.com founders Richard Goulding, Simon Perrée, and with investment from Zuma Investments Limited (registered in Jersey, see registration information in the JFSC Companies Registry here).

  • In 2004 Play.com sold 15 million shipments and sales of UKL 190m
  • In 2005 Play.com sold 25 million shipments and a sales of UKL 250m
  • In 2011 Play.com is estimated to achieve sales of UKL 400 million

Play.com and the Channel Island tax loophole

Under EU rules established around 1980, merchandise priced less than UKL 18 (approx. US$ 30) from Channel Island based websites could be sold to customers in the UK without paying VAT (value added tax). UK plans to close this loophole by March 2012.

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