Natalie Massenet, who crossed fashion journalism with ecommerce to produce Net-a-Porter, is reaping the rewards of her pioneering model today. Luxury goods group Richemont announced this morning it was to extend its 33% stake in the company to 100% in a deal that values the company at £350m.
Former fashion journalist Massenet’s own stake in the company is thought to be in the region of 18% - putting her personal payday at around £50m. Some of that, however, is now to be invested into the Net-a-Porter part of the Richemont group.
Net-a-porter was founded in 2000 and today it turns over £120m a year and employs 600 people in London and New York. Using a fashion magazine format to sell clothes from more than 300 designers, among them Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs, Balmain and Dolce & Gabbana, it delivers to more than 170 countries worldwide and recently marked its millionth order. It’s estimated the site receives more than three million visitors a month.
The Net-a-Porter emphasis is on customer service – and the trader has pioneered same day delivery for London and New York orders. Returns, of course, are free. The upmarket appeal has obviously proved a fit for Richemont, whose brands also include Cartier and Montblanc.
Massenet said today: “The entire team is immensely proud of what we have built and is very excited about our future. Ten years on and firmly established as a benchmark in global luxury on-line retail, The Net-a-Porter group is poised and ready for the next decade and beyond. Richemont has completely embraced our vision and strategy since they came on board as a shareholder and together we are going to continue to build the 21st century model for luxury fashion retailing.”
Johann Rupert, Richemont’s executive chairman and chief executive, meanwhile emphasized the independence that its subsidiary companies enjoy. He added: “Natalie has created a superb, customer-orientated business at Net-a-Porter in a relatively short period of time. Becoming part of our group will provide the company with the support it requires to realize its business strategies.”
Our view: This deal shows that despite economic slowdown customers, whether they’re the corporate type, or the individual, are still wiling to pay for luxury. But to benefit from that appetite, retailers must pull out the stops to get it right. In this case Net-a-Porter offers the clothes that customers want, where they want them and when they want them – and that’s right now.