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Net-A-Porter to enter China through Alibaba deal

Yoox Net-A-Porter (YNAP) is forming a joint venture with Alibaba Group to bring its luxury online retail offering to Chinese consumers,

The partnership, announced last Friday, will see Net-A-Porter and menswear site Mr Porter launch flagship stores on Alibaba’s Tmall Global e-commerce platform, as well as mobile apps.

YNAP, which is owned by Swiss luxury group Richemont, will leverage its strong relationships with leading luxury brands, while Alibaba will lend its resources and expertise in marketing, payments and technology infrastructure.

The joint venture is 51 per cent owned by YNAP and 49 per cent owned by Alibaba.

“Our digital offering in China is in its infancy and we believe that partnering with Alibaba will enable us to become a significant and sustainable online player in this market,” Richemont chairman Johann Rupert said in a statement that emphasised the growing importance of Chinese customers to the luxury e-commerce site.

“We’ve spoken to various owners of some of the Maisons about the inevitable convergence of online and offline. I don’t think there’s any doubt in anybody’s mind that the new luxury, the new shopping experience will be in a different form… Everybody is excited about China and Chinese travellers, and this is obviously the best way to go,” he added.

Richemont owns 17 leading luxury brands, such as Cartier, Montblanc, Piaget, Van Cleef & Arpel and Chloe in addition to YNAP, which comprises four different websites: Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter, Yoox and The Outnet.

Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang said the joint venture will give Chinese consumers greater choice as their tastes grow in sophistication.

“Chinese consumers are expected to account for nearly half of the global luxury market by 2025, and through this partnership, Alibaba and YNAP will be even better positioned to capture this compelling market opportunity,” Zhang said, citing 2017 research from management consultancy McKinsey & Co.

That trend has played out on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms. In the 12 months ending in June, total luxury sales on Tmall grew 46 per cent, while the total number of luxury shoppers grew by 36 per cent.

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