Fits.me sold to Japanese company
Rakuten, a Tokyo-based electronic commerce and Internet company, announced on Monday that it has acquired a 100 percent stake in Estonian-founded fit preference specialist Fits.me.
Rakuten said that it expects the innovative tech startup to further strengthen its e-commerce offerings and marketing solutions by providing a greater personalization of the retail experience for shoppers.
Fits.me will operate as a stand-alone business within Rakuten, Inc.
Fits.me was founded in 2010. The company designed virtual fitting room that helps shoppers better understand what clothes fit and suit them before making a purchase.
“Fits.me represents both the fun and functionality of shopping online and is a natural complement to our growing portfolio of e-commerce and marketing services,” Rakuten founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said.
Fits.me was founded in Estonia by Heikki Haldre and Paul Pällin and financially backed by institutional investors Conor Venture Partners, Entrepreneur’s Fund, Smartcap, Contour Venture Partners and Primary Venture Partners, as well as several angel investors. Over 9 million euros (10 million dollars) have been invested in Fits.me since its founding, but the company is yet to record a profit.
Average salary tops 1,000 euros throughout the year for first time
In 2014, the average monthly gross wages and salaries were 1,005 euros and the average hourly gross wages and salaries were 6.14 euros, an increase of 5.9 percent and 7.2 respectively, compared to 2013.
Real wages, which take into account the influence of the change in the consumer price index, increased for the fourth year in a row following the decline in 2010, according to Statistics Estonia.
The salaries increased in all economic activities, but mostly in professional, scientific, technical, financial and insurance sectors. Information and communication business were slower to catch up, although the wages in this field still exceeded the national average 1.6 times.
The public sector commanded slightly higher average pay than the private one – 1,037 against 994 euros.
Relatively low salaries have caused an ongoing debate and dissatisfaction in the Estonian society, being one one of the main reasons for emigration. It is estimated that approximately 50,000 Estonians live and earn higher salaries in Finland, Estonia's much wealthier neighbor.
Electricity production from renewable sources increasing in Estonia
While the electricity production fell by over 6 percent last year, production from renewable sources increased nearly 13 percent compared to 2013.
According to Statistics Estonia, the production decreased due to cheaper electricity import from the Nordic countries. Import from Finland grew 1.5 times in 2014 compared to the year before and represented more than 97 percent of total energy imports.
The electricity production from oil shale has declined, while the development of new wind farms has increased the production of wind energy. Last year, it showed a 14 percent rise. In last five years, the share of electricity generated from renewable sources in total electricity consumption has increased more than twice, from 6.2 percent in 2009 to 15.3 percent in 2014.
Estonian economy grows 1.1%
The gross domestic product (GDP) of Estonia increased 1.1 percent in the first quarter of 2015, compared to the previous year.
In the first quarter, the GDP at current prices was 4.7 billion euros, Statistics Estonian announced on Tuesday.
The GDP was driven mostly by manufacturing, which was mainly due to an increase in electronic and wood production output. Manufacturing was the biggest contributor to the GDP growth for the third quarter in a row.
Transport sector suffered decline, mainly caused by the decline in land transit activities.
Wages have risen by 7 percent compared to the same time last year, which means that labor costs have grown substantially faster than productivity – the latter has slightly declined.
In general, Estonia’s economy was positively influenced by external demand and negatively influenced by domestic demand. Domestic demand decreased 1.6 percent at real prices.
EC Vice-President Katainen and PM Rõivas debate Investment Plan for Europe
European Commission (EC) Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, promotes the EC's Investment Plan for Europe in Tallinn today and will participate in a public debate on European economy with Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.
Katainen's working visit to Estonian capital is part of his roadshow to promote the “Investment Plan for Europe”.
The highly ambitious plan came about because since the global economic and financial crisis, the EU has been suffering from low levels of investment. The EC is now focussing at the coordinated efforts to reverse this downward trend and put Europe on the path of economic recovery.
The Investment Plan for Europe will deploy public and private investments of at least 315 billion euros over the next three years, from 2015-2017. The plan aims to better mobilize investment finance across the EU. One of the steps will be the creation of portal on European investment opportunities, to provide transparency for investors.
As part of the plan, the Commission is also working to remove regulatory barriers to investment and strengthen the single market.
In Estonia's case, the total investment remains among the EU’s highest at 25.8 percent of GDP in 2014. Estonia's public sector investment was the highest in the EU at 5.1 percent of GDP in 2014, and it is expected to increase in 2015. Private investment has been driven by the industrial sectors, mainly trade, electricity and agriculture, and R&D expenditure remains below the EU average at 1.7 percent of GDP in 2013. Thus, higher investment is needed in R&D and education, but also in high-quality infrastructure and effective transport systems. Further investment is also needed to enhance the energy efficiency of the economy and improve interconnections of Estonia’s gas and electricity networks in order to fully integrate it into the EU energy market.
It is expected that the Investment Plan for Europe can contribute to high value investment in these sectors, which are vital for Estonia’s long term competitiveness and economic growth.
"I am very pleased to be in Estonia to engage with local businesses, government and students about the Investment Plan for Europe. Estonia is a frontrunner and model for other European countries when it comes to investment in innovation and entrepreneurship. One great example of this is the country's advanced digital infrastructure. Together with my colleague Vice-President Andrus Ansip, we want to create a true digital single market in Europe, which is an important part of the Investment Plan," Katainen said prior to the visit.
During his visit, Katainen will meet Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, Minister of Finance Sven Sester, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kristen Michal and Minister of Entrepreneurship Urve Palo. The EC commissioner will also meet local bankers and venture capitalists and visit Skype's Tallinn HQ.
Prior to EC position, Katainen was Prime Minister of Finland from 2011 to 2014.