Net-a-Porter, pioneering online luxury fashion retailer, will be bought out by Swiss luxury goods group Richemont within the week according to Telegraph.co.uk. Richemont, which controls a 28% stake in the business, is believed to be in discussions to acquire the shares in the business that it does not already own from the other shareholders, mainly the founder Natalie Massenet and the Venezuelan investor Baywinds. The deal values Net-a-Porter, approximately at $531 million.
Although it is not yet clear if founder Natalie Massenet will retain some position or some of her 18,2 percent stake of Net-a-Porter, it is certain that a deal like this will make her a lot richer. The French, former fashion journalist, Massenet created the London-based website in 2000, and today it is one of the top online retailers, along with Italy-based Yoox and UK-based Asos, selling high-end brands as Jimmy Choo, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Givenchy. Its revenues reach up to about $123m (for the 12 months up to January 2009). Net-a-Porter also runs the discount luxury fashion retail site TheOutnet.com and the back office for Jimmy Choo’s online operations.
Should the third-largest luxury goods company in the world by turnover, Richemont, acquire Net-a-Porter, it will gain a channel to sell its own luxury brands including Cartier, Alfred Dunhill and Chloé as well as access to a huge female community, since the site attracts around 2m women monthly. So far, both parties have declined to comment on the acquisition.
With luxury brands growing more and more fond of the online world and the online fashion retailers and media growing their profits rapidly month by month, will we see the household names in fashion and luxury move to a series of buyouts in an effort to get ahead of the online race as fast as possible? And if luxury groups take over the online market of fashion, will there still be room left for smaller businesses and fashion start ups? Looks like 2010 is going to be a hot year in fashion and the front row will be definitely wired!