Shoppers walks past advertisements on the opening day of fast-fashion e-commerce giant Shein, which hosted a brick-and-mortar pop up inside Forever 21 at the Ontario Mills Mall in Ontario on Oct. 19, 2023.
Allen J. Schaben | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
ORLANDO, Fla. — Little is known about how much revenue Shein draws or just how profitable it is.
But the fast-fashion company’s sales are “a lot more” than the $30 billion it reportedly brings in annually, one of the retailer’s key partners said Monday.
“Shein is the fastest growing fashion retailer in the world, if not the biggest fashion retailer in the world,” Jamie Salter, the founder and CEO of privately owned brand management firm Authentic Brands Group, said during a fireside chat at the ICR Conference in Orlando.
“There’s talks that they do 30 billion, do they do 40 billion? Do they do 35 billion? I’m not going to tell you exactly what they do, but I can tell you they do a lot more than $30 billion,” Salter continued in an apparent reference to Shein’s annual sales.
As a private company, Shein does not disclose its financials. However, it may soon have to after the retailer confidentially filed to go public in the U.S., following torrid growth and months of efforts to resolve a range of concerns lawmakers had about its business practices.
However, Salter is familiar with Shein’s financials because of a partnership he inked with the company last summer. As part of the deal, Shein acquired about a third of Sparc Group, a joint venture that includes Authentic and Simon Property Group. Sparc took a minority stake in Shein.
Sparc is the operator of Forever 21, which Authentic owns. As part of the partnership, Shein has begun selling a co-branded clothing line with Forever 21 and hosting pop-up events at the retailer’s many mall stores.
Very little is known about Shein’s financials, but bits and pieces have leaked to the press in recent years as the retailer has geared up for an initial public offering. The best Shein revenue figure available came in a Wall Street Journal story in May, which said the company did $23 billion in sales in 2022, citing people close to the company.
The outlet reported that Shein had set a target to grow sales by 40% in 2023, which would have brought its revenue above $30 billion. It is unclear if the company hit that goal.
Shein did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
If Shein’s sales are “a lot more” than $30 billion annually, its revenue would still be far smaller than that of retail giants such as Walmart and Amazon, which do hundreds of billions in sales annually. However, the figure would put it at least in line with Zara’s owner Inditex, which posted €32 billion in sales in 2022, and H&M, which saw about $22 billion in sales that year.
A sales total above $30 billion would mean Shein dwarfs American retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle, which most recently reported annual sales of $3.7 billion and $5 billion, respectively.
During the discussion, Salter talked about Authentic’s story, its growth plans and how he decided to partner with Shein. When asked what some of his biggest mistakes were, he said one was not acknowledging the competitive threat posed by Shein and China-based online marketplace Temu earlier.
“My partner, [Simon Property Group CEO David Simon] said, ‘Why are you going partners with Shein? Like you think that’s the right decision?’ and I said, ‘David, it’s the right decision, we cannot beat them. Their supply chain is too good. They know what’s going on. They’ve figured this out. We need to partner with them,'” Salter recalled. “So I was the brave one that said, ‘Let’s go partner with these guys.'”
Salter said the partnership is still in its early stages. “We’re dating right now,” he said, as the two companies are still learning how to trust each other.
“The pop-ups have been huge home runs and, you know, Forever 21 by Shein has been good, has not been great, but it’s just early. So the jury’s still out,” said Salter. “You’re dealing with some people that, they don’t speak the language the same way we do, they have a different set of rules than we do and trust factor, it takes time, you know? You don’t learn to trust somebody in 15 minutes. You have to earn that trust. … It’s a work in progress.”
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