HomeTech “Repairing your phone should be a right”: the boss of the booming second-hand technology company Back Market

“Repairing your phone should be a right”: the boss of the booming second-hand technology company Back Market

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"Repairing your phone should be a right": the boss of the booming second-hand technology company Back Market

thibaud Hug from Larauze waves his iPhone and boasts that he is more than seven years old. “It works very well,” he says. It’s not what one would expect from a tech entrepreneur who heads one of France’s biggest “unicorn” startups – Back Market – which has raised more than $1 billion to expand to 18 countries.

The CEO of the second-hand gadgets marketplace says he would rather identify as an eco-warrior than a tech guru, fighting to persuade us all to buy used phones, laptops and other gadgets, and repair or recycle old ones.

New technologies contribute more than one billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, just under 3% of the global total, making them the seventh largest contributor (about half the size of the technology industry). fashion) according to Our World in Data.

Repairing a smartphone just once can save more than 77 kg of carbon emissions, according to research by the French ecological transition agency Ademe, helping to lighten our impact on the planet and solve a gigantic electronic waste problem equivalent to more than 60 million tons per year worldwide. and reduce the need to extract scarce resources, including gold, platinum and palladium.

“It’s a great boost to wake up and at the end of the day…know that I’m trying to accomplish something that’s positive,” Hug says of Larauze. He says what he likes about the company is that he doesn’t compromise values ​​for value. “The more we grow the business, the better it will be in terms of impact.”

The group, which is based in Paris and Bordeaux and employs 700 people worldwide, expects to make its first annual underlying profit this year, shortly after its 10th anniversary in November. Sales continue to rise, thanks to 45% growth last year to €320m (£270m), making the company around a quarter the size of the UK’s online electrical goods retailer. Joined AO.

The UK, where Back Market opened its doors four years ago, is now its fastest growing country, with an 80% year-on-year increase in sales. The group owns 44% of Britain’s online refurbished technology market, with more than half of that in smartphones. Hug de Larauze says interest has increased in the UK because people are “fight inflation and look for options to basically save money on technology,” but also because they are “very sustainability-oriented.” “E-waste is a big issue; “It’s something that matters to people.”

Back Market, now a certified B Corp ensuring certain ethical standards, was founded in 2014 by Hug de Larauze and two friends, Quentin Le Brouster and Vianney Vaute. He says the launch was inspired by working with renovation specialists who sold their products on companies such as eBay.

Hug de Larauze felt that refurbished products needed a higher profile and a smoother sales experience to provide more confidence to buyers. They may be cheaper and greener, but refurbished items compete with expensive commercialized domestic brands and “there was a big trust gap between those two worlds that needed to be filled.”

Having started selling smartphones only in France, Back Market now sells 200 different types of refurbished devices (from smartphones and laptops to baby monitors and game consoles) in 18 countries. These include the US and much of Europe, as well as Japan, South Korea and Australia, with 4.5 million new customers last year, bringing the total to more than 13 million since launch.

Back Market does not acquire or maintain stock or carry out renovations itself. It works with 1,700 merchants and restaurateurs who are rigorously vetted before they are allowed to go public. Sellers obtain their products from a combination of sources, including telecommunications companies that offer trade-ins and upgrades to customers.

Last year, after several rounds of funding, with growth-fueled money pumped in by the likes of Goldman Sachs and Airbnb and Spotify investor Aglaé Ventures, Back Market decided to shift its focus toward making a profit. It is now funding itself, after interest rate increases and a weak IPO market made sources of new cash less promising.

While an IPO is not completely ruled out, Larauze’s Hug says no more cash is needed to continue expansion. He is confident the group is on track to post profits in December. He has reduced hiring and stopped entering new territories or product categories to make the most of his established position.

Back Market’s growth comes not only from its existing markets, but also from new services such as the exchange of certain products in the UK, France, USA and other markets, and recycling, which is being tested in France. Hug de Larauze says he wants to offer the public a method of getting rid of unwanted technology in an easy and potentially cost-effective way, rather than letting devices accumulate in a drawer. Buying back or offering to recycle items also provides a steady flow of products for Back Market’s army of restaurateurs.

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With UK households now amassing around 30 broken tech items each (up from 20 four years ago, according to Material Focus), there is clearly plenty of scope for these types of services. Further change is being driven by “right to repair” legislation, which will come into force in all EU member states in 2026, forcing manufacturers to make spare parts and technical information available for phones and tablets. , as well as for kitchen appliances.

In the UK, where we dispose of 2 million tonnes of e-waste each year, right to repair legislation was introduced in 2021. However, it only covers a handful of items, including large kitchen appliances and televisions.

Hug de Larauze wants the legislation to go further: “If you really want to move people towards circularity and/or repair, making devices last longer, it is necessary to involve everyone. It takes a people and, above all, manufacturers. It could include designing the products (with repair or longevity in mind), starting to sell replacement parts, or allowing people to fix things more easily.”

New legislation is also welcomed, under which electronics producers and retailers are asked to pay more for the collection and recycling of the items they sell. However, the Back Market boss says the UK system needs adjustments so that repair is considered the first option before recycling.

“People would love to be able to buy those products,” he says. “It should be everyone’s right to be able to fix the product they have and use it longer.”


Age 36
Family Married and with three daughters.
Education French secondary school in Canada, then IÉSEG management school great school in France. She traveled between France, Toronto, Mexico, Spain and India during her studies before taking a break to rebuild schools in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Pay Not disclosed.
Last vacations In Brittany, in the Gulf of Morbihan, near Vannes.
Biggest regret “I have no excuses. Except maybe for the fact that I didn’t become a professional tennis player.”
The best advice you have ever been given. “You have to be ambitious and cautious, and listen to the subtle signs.”
Words or phrases you use too much “Excellent, excellent, but how do we get to the next level?”
how do you relax Navigation; tennis; be near the ocean; and playing with her daughters on the beach.

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