Kering is ending its joint venture with Yoox Net-a-porter.com and taking e-commerce for brands within its stable, including Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta, in-house.
The French conglomerate, which was then known as PPR, established a deal with Yoox in 2012, to help power the online retail platforms for its labels during a time when it was still carving out a strategy. The partnership was slated for renewal in 2020, by which time Kering’s digital operation, which looked after Gucci’s online offering independently, would have matured to an advanced level. Speculation that Kering, was taking back its business after Yoox, which merged with Net-a-porter.com in 2015, had been acquired by Richemont, a rival conglomerate, earlier this year, thus looks unfounded.
YNAP is keen to emphasise that the move was not unexpected and that its online flagship stores division is thriving. The loss of seven brands from its portfolio of 33 will not make a sizeable impact to YNAP’s profits – in 2017, the flagship store service accounted for 10 per cent of total company revenues. “We continue to enjoy an excellent relationship with Kering and work very closely with them and their brands across our Net-a-porter.com, Mrporter.com, Yoox.com and Theoutnet.com multi-brand online luxury retail platforms,” a YNAP spokesperson told Vogue.
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The transition, which is expected to be complete in the first half of 2020, seems inevitable on Kering’s side too, as online sales have become the luxury industry’s most important engine of growth. Will it attempt to build a rival to 24sevres.com, the website developed by LVMH to stock its brands? The team has already enlisted Apple to create applications for its sales assistants to scan inventories in order to support its plans. When the race to conquer the digital retail landscape is on – and the rewards of collecting private data on customer behaviour significant – no companies want to get left behind.