Getting the loss-making e-tailer Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP) off its balance sheet has become a priority for Swiss luxury group Richemont and its chairman Johann Rupert, Astrid Wendlandt’s Miss Tweed website reported Sunday, citing unnamed sources.
YNAP’s sales growth and technological prowess have fallen behind rival platform Farfetch, which sources its inventory using a nimble marketplace model. Its back-end technology solutions are also becoming increasingly popular with brands who wish to integrate their stocks across e-commerce and stores.
Last year, Richemont invested $300 million in Farfetch as well as backing a new joint venture with Alibaba in China. The tie-up with its e-commerce arm’s biggest rival was read by the market as an admission by the Swiss group of YNAP’s dimming prospects.
Creating a consortium in which Farfetch and Alibaba could become minority backers in YNAP is one option being explored by Richemont, the Miss Tweed report said. The possibility for Farfetch to take over e-commerce and omni-channel services for the group’s brands including jewellery giant Cartier would be a key bargaining chip to secure its participation in such a deal, according to the report.
Richemont could also seek to sell YNAP outright or invest further in turning it around. But the most obvious potential buyer, Farfetch, has already rebuffed Richemont’s approaches for an outright sale, the report said. The latter option would likely require several hundred million dollars in further investment.
A spokesperson for Richemont declined to comment on the report.
Yoox used to be a major technology provider, but over the years partners have defected from the platform.