DEAD END: British online retailer Avenue 32, which sold contemporary women’s wear, has shut down, the company said Wednesday.
The business posted a message on its web site: “Goodbye…After 6 wonderful years, we have decided to focus on new projects and so, sadly, Avenue32.com is now closed. Thank you for being such loyal customers. Orders placed before 11th August 2017 will be processed as normal and the returns period remains at 15 days from receiving your order.”
Launched in 2011 by chief executive officer Roberta Benteler, who had spent her career in private equity, Avenue 32 was backed by Germany’s Benteler Group, which makes steel tubes, components and systems for the auto industry.
Sources said the closure came down to financing as the company struggled to generate sales. Financials experts say it’s difficult for small online retailers to secure funding and financing nowadays: Not only do they have to show they are profitable, they are also facing competition from all directions. They have to compete with the big online luxury players such as Net-a-porter.com, Moda Operandi, Stylebop.com, Mytheresa.com Farfetch and Matchesonline.com, stand-alone brand sites and Instagram sellers. Last year, e-tailer Atterley Road ceased operations as it failed to secure new investment. The web site founded by Katie Starmer Smith — who had previously worked at Mulberry and Jigsaw — closed after operating for four years.
One industry source speculated that the company’s failure also came down to customer acquisition, which is expensive. Smaller fashion tech players are also finding it increasingly difficult to raise money.
Avenue 32 stocked more than 150 designers including Temperley London, Carven and Alexander Wang alongside emerging labels such as Rejina Pyo, Barbara Casasola, Shrimps and Eudon Choi. In 2015, the company tapped Stephen Ayres — formerly of Liberty — as fashion director. Ayres said previously that one of his goals was to ferret out small, often far-flung, labels and deliver them to the site’s fashion-hungry customer.
The company had also offered designers and brands a platform to create their own virtual shop and had brands such as Lacoste, Emanuel Ungaro, Katie Hillier and Todd Lynn take part. The e-tailer held and distributed the merchandise from its warehouse.
In 2014, the company focused on digital initiatives and partnered with the multichannel technology firm Usablenet to elevate its mobile shopping experience. At the time, Benteler noted that mobile traffic to the site was on the rise, with half the retailer’s traffic at times coming from mobile.
Since the mobile sites launched late last year, 24 percent of Avenue 32’s total orders come from mobile devices, and the conversion rate for those browsing the retailer’s offer on mobile sites has increased by 85 percent. The London-based company has an office in Kensington.