The European online restaurant reservation service LaFourchette announced that it has raised €8 million ($10.5 million) from Serena Capital and Partech at a valuation of more than €50 million ($65.8 million). This funding will be used to consolidate its leading position in Europe. New country-specific websites are said to launch soon.
Restaurant reservations online are still new in Europe. “There is significant room for improvement because only 2% of restaurant reservations happen online — against 40% to 50% for hotel reservations for example,” said Bertrand Jelensperger co-founder and CEO in a Les Échos interview.
But it appears that LaFourchette aspires to go further than providing a website for making restaurant reservations. First, they will launch a new reservation portal before the end of the year. They will also introduce a premium offering — but no details have been given yet.
Second, it will put emphasis on its mobile applications. Evidence of this lies in its objective of reservations — in the long run, 50% of reservations will happen on a mobile phone. In addition to improving its mobile apps, two other key features will be expanded, discount deals and user reviews.
Investors are seeing much potential in the online restaurant reservation space. The company announced a €10 million ($13.2 million) revenue over the last 12 months. Three-quarters of it comes from a 2 euros commission for each reservation on average. Every month, 400,000 reservations are made in France, Spain and Switzerland. Previous investor Otium Capital still remains the major shareholder with its €3.3 million investment ($4.3 million) from last year.
Competitors include French companies such as RestoBookings and TableOnline. The American public company OpenTable has yet to offer a comprehensive selection of restaurants in France. LaFourchette is competing as well against well-known companies such as Yelp for user reviews and Groupon for restaurant deals. But it expects to double its revenue over the upcoming year.