Compagnie Financière Richemont SA has announced that it will acquire online luxury retailer Net-a-Porter.com. Richemont purchased a 33% interest in Net-a-Porter in 2002, and in this deal Richemont will acquire the remaining shares. The transaction values Net-a-Porter at about $530 million. Net-a-porter sells expensive women’s clothes and accessories, offering collections from more than 300 leading designers.
Net-a-porter was founded in 2000 by former fashion journalist Natalie Massenet, who will continue as executive chairwoman. The company delivers goods to 170 countries, and has been profitable since 2004. Net-a-Porter has over 600 employees with principal operation centers in London and New York. Last June, the company reported profits of $18.3 million on sales of $147.6 million for the year to January 31, 2009.
Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet
Analysts see Richemont’s move as an acknowledgment that consumers will buy very expensive goods online. Whether we will see Richemont-brand watches on the site remains to be seen. Though Net-a-Porter currently sells pricey clothing and accessories, the wristwatch offer is quite limited. Women’s Wear Daily asked Massenet about selling Richemont brands online, and she responded “No discussions have taken place. We’re not talking about that, but we won’t rule out anything in the luxury space.” WWD also quotes a source close to Richemont as saying “…they won’t be selling watches like the site sells dresses.” Net-a-Porter currently offers a small number of lower-priced fashion watches from designer brands including Nixon, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, and Paul & Joe.