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JD.com pays US$397m for stake in luxury fashion e-commerce provider Farfetch

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 June, 2017, 8:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 June, 2017, 7:56am

JD.com has bought an undisclosed stake in Farfetch, the London-based luxury fashion e-commerce service provider, in a US$397 million deal that marks the Chinese online retail giant’s biggest international acquisition to date.

The two companies, which jointly announced the transaction on Thursday, described their strategic partnership as a means to further gain share in the estimated US$80 billion market in domestic and travel-related purchases of luxury goods by mainland Chinese consumers.

“As part of our major luxury push, we could not have found a stronger online partner than Farfetch,” said Richard Liu Qiangdong, the chairman and chief executive at Naqsdaq-listed JD.com.

“This partnership with Farfetch further extends our lead in the battle for the future of China’s upwardly mobile consumers.”

Founded by Portuguese entrepreneur José Neves in 2008, privately held Farfetch has partnered directly with more than 700 luxury fashion brands and boutiques on its online marketplace. It sells to about 1 million customers in more than 190 countries and territories.

The company, which reported gross sales of US$800 million last year, runs nine local-language e-commerce sites, which include the mainland, South Korea and Japan.

Prior to the JD.com investment, the largest funding raised by Farfetch was its US$110-million Series F financing round in May last year. That was led by Singapore national wealth fund Temasek Holdings, mainland Chinese investment firm IDG Capital Partners and French investment firm Eurazeo.

Neves, who serves as chief executive and co-chairman at Farfetch, said the new partnership with JD.com “addresses the [mainland] market’s challenges by combining the Farfetch brand and curation with the scale and influence of the foremost Chinese e-commerce giant”.

Liu will join the Farfetch board of directors alongside recent appointees Natalie Massenet, who chairs the British Fashion Council, and Jonathan Newhouse, the chief executive at Condé Nast International.

The mainland, the world’s second-largest market for personal luxury goods, saw its overall global share slip to 30 per cent last year, from 31 per cent in 2015, as domestic spending contracted 2 per cent year-on-year to 17 billion (US$18.9 billion), according to Bain & Company’s latest worldwide luxury market study.