Looks from Matchesfashion.com's fall 2018 press day

LONDON — Matchesfashion.com, which saw sales surge 44 percent last year, has been leveraging the power of personalization, broadening its reach into international markets, and attempting to get as close as possible to the consumer.

“Our mission is to become even more personal, closer and more in sync with the consumer. We want to be the reverse of the department store and offer the most personalized luxury experience to our customers,” said chief executive officer Ulric Jerome after the company reported sales of 293 million pounds in the 12 months to Jan. 31.

EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was up 37 percent to 26 million pounds.

Jerome said the company was proud of driving top and bottom line growth. He said Matchesfashion is constantly reinvesting in new technologies that are invisible to the consumer, but that make the shopping experience fun — and seamless.

In an interview, Jerome said two-thirds of business is driven by existing customers, and that the company’s profitability comes from “customers coming back. We have loyal customers and we want to take care of them. The technology is there to make shopping, and interactions with them, super-easy.”

Jerome pointed to features on the Matchesfashion.com app such as The Style Daily and The Style Social, which aim to deliver unique online daily content to users in order to keep them engaged and excited.

Last year also saw the launch of two local-language web sites, in French and Korean, and Jerome said there are more local sites to come. “Localization and customization is key. International growth is not going to stop,” he said.

Some 82 percent of online business was generated outside of the U.K. last year. Sales in the U.S. led the way on the international front, increasing by 54 percent. The U.S. is now Matchesfashion.com’s largest country by 

The average order value in the 12 months was 542 pounds, while 95 percent of business came from online. Web site visits in the year increased 36 percent year-on-year to 75 million, while 51 percent of online sales were generated via mobile.

The retailer’s Hong Kong office has tripled in size since last year, and Matchesfashion has also launched a state-of-the-art creative studio in east London. In the summer, a new 500,000-square-foot global distribution center — with four times the capacity of the old one — will open in London, followed by a five-story town house residence at 5 Carlos Place in Mayfair, set to open in September.

Jerome said the Carlos Place town house will bring together “retail, culture and broadcasting” and that it’s meant to connect and inspire. Two floors will be dedicated to retail and two to private appointments, while the top floor will be given over to events, discussions and special programs.

The plan is to involve a wide selection of men and women — ranging from museum curators to athletes, entrepreneurs, models and yoga instructors — to speak or interview each other. Products on offer at the town house and online will reflect that particular talk or themes. He said Matchesfashion.com also plans to live-stream content and create podcasts that will be available on the retailer’s site.

“Wherever you are in the world, you’ll be able to see what’s going on in the house; it’s luxury rewired,” he said.

Matchesfashion.com began as a brick-and-mortar retailer in Wimbledon 30 years ago and operates seven stores in four London locations. It has a stand-alone store for its in-house line Raey and a town house space in Marylebone for personal events and appointments.

The company was purchased last September by Apax Partners and its founders Tom and Ruth Chapman have exited the day-to-day operations of the business, and act as consultants.

Jerome added that the global online luxury market is seeing strong growth, “but penetration is still very low, so the opportunity is huge. We continue to accelerate profitable growth in our international markets and we see that momentum continuing throughout 2018.”

The retailer certainly got a boost from the royal wedding over the weekend, with the Marylebone store selling a Givenchy gown costing 8,520 pounds. The woman who bought it on Saturday said she planned to wear it as a wedding dress.

Sales of event dresses increased by 140 percent year-on-year, with customers focusing on the brands worn during the ceremony — or mooted as possible wedding dress designers. They included Givenchy, Stella McCartney, Roksanda, Erdem, Emilia Wickstead and The Vampire’s Wife.

Matches added that the Alessandra Rich dress that Abigail Spencer, Meghan Markle’s “Suits” costar, wore on Saturday is now sold out on the web site.

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