It took a while, but Richemont has wrapped up e-commerce
Buyout of online retailers was the main reason group sales rose 27% to €14bn for the year to end-March
Richemont, the Swiss luxury brands group, has not exactly rushed into selling its wares over the internet. The group, which is controlled by the Rupert family, initially reasoned that allowing people to buy its products by clicking on a screen would somehow diminish its brands.
It said part of the magic of its brands for customers was the experience of going into a Cartier or Van Cleef & Arpels store and having a range of watches, pens and jewellery presented to them.
Buying over the internet is not nearly as magical. It is, however, efficient at matching buyers and sellers and providing access to markets Richemont’s limited number of niche stores find hard to reach.
Richemont knew this but wanted to get into e-commerce in a way that protected its brand but also expanded its reach. It took some time to find a strategy that worked, but its takeover of Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP) and pre-owned watch platform Watchfinder in March 2018 achieved these goals. The acquisitions were the main reason group sales rose 27% to €14bn for the year to end-March.
Though it’s still early days, its takeover of YNAP is opening doors for its other operations, such as Cartier, which is now trading through the YNAP site. In October 2018, YNAP announced plans for a joint venture with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to extend the in-season offerings of YNAP to Chinese consumers.