MILAN — After two decades, Federico Marchetti, chairman and chief executive officer of the Yoox Net-a-porter Group, has decided to stay on as chairman but to hand over the ceo role when a successor is found.
“As planned, we are in the early stages of implementing a succession plan for the next ceo of YNAP, with me staying on as chairman to ensure a smooth transition and set the new ceo up for success,” Marchetti said.
His contract is set to expire in 2021.
Market sources believe Marchetti, who is known to be a hands-on, details-oriented entrepreneur and has shaped the group with a long-term vision and creativity, is keen to see the right successor in place and would not give up the ceo role before that happens.
Marchetti broke ground in Italy by founding Yoox in 2000 and publicly listing it in 2009, then the first initial public offering in Italy in 18 months.
Then, in a first in the luxury online arena, Marchetti spearheaded the merger of Yoox and Net- a-porter in 2015.
YNAP’s active customers today total 4.3 million and the group comprises the multibrand in-season online stores Net-a-porter and Mr Porter; the multibrand off-season Yoox and The Outnet, as well as the online flagships for designer brands ranging from Giorgio Armani to Valentino — a business model he pioneered in 2006, when designers were still skeptical of the Internet. Marchetti was also among the first to believe in the potential of selling high jewelry and luxury watches online, starting in 2016 and now stocking brands such as Piaget, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Pomellato, IWC and Buccellati. That year, Marchetti also planned an innovative logistics platform outside Milan for Net-a-porter and Mr Porter, which was unveiled last year, to better serve European customers — a prescient move that is now seen as an asset that offers a competitive advantage as Brexit becomes a reality.
Compagnie Financière Richemont took control of YNAP in 2018, delisting it from the Milan Stock Exchange and valuing the company at about 6 billion euros. Before the acquisition, YNAP had reported sales of more than 2 billion euros. Marchetti continued to grow the online group, expanding it in China and the Middle East. Richemont and YNAP have established strategic joint ventures in each region, with Alibaba Group and Mohamed Alabbar’s Symphony Investments, respectively. These are two markets with a high penetration of mobile, which has long been pivotal to the group’s strategy.
Today, YNAP sells more than 1 billion euros of luxury through mobile phones each year and the group’s online destinations have 1 billion visits annually. Marchetti has over the years continued to invest in technology, artificial intelligence, visual recognition and big data. For example, YooxMirror, the AI-powered virtual styling function, the first in the sector, allows customers to create their own digital avatar by taking a selfie or uploading an image and trying on the clothes virtually. Marchetti initiated a complex technological platform migration in 2016, envisioning long-term benefits.
YNAP has 10 distribution centers worldwide totaling around 4.32 million square feet, including the new warehouse outside Milan, in Landriano.
In an interview last year, Marchetti told WWD that YNAP is leveraging “a fundamental difference” compared with its competitors. “We are an ecosystem,” he said.
Referring to Net-a-porter, Mr Porter, The Outnet and Yoox, he elaborated: “They are our four multibrand storefronts that cover four types of very different customers in different geographies, and then there are the designer brands’ online flagship stores — where we are the invisible partner backstage. Everything is connected, so that Brunello Cucinelli can work with Net-a-porter, but also with Mr Porter, with The Outnet and with Yoox. This obviously strengthens the [brand] message and means we work in a great spirit of partnership with the brand, for the long term, which has always been the leitmotif of my strategy.”
The focus with the brands is now on the Next Era project, first developed with Valentino in 2017 and now expanded to the Richemont brands, which allows complete visibility on the availability of products to the final customer.
YNAP employs nearly 5,500 people globally and women make up more than half of the group’s leadership and almost two-thirds of the global workforce.
Sustainability has also been a priority for Marchetti for some time, since in 2009 he launched Yooxygen, the first online destination dedicated to responsible brands, and the Ecobox, the first responsible packaging in fashion e-commerce, made of 100 percent recyclable and recycled materials. Net Sustain is a sustainable fashion destination on Net-a-porter.