LONDON — Matchesfashion has a new chief executive officer, Ajay Kavan.
Formerly of Amazon, Kavan succeeds Ulric Jerome, who exited the retailer last August, two years after the business was acquired by Apax Partners for nearly $1 billion following a bidding frenzy by a number of private equity investors, including Permira and KKR.
Jerome had served as ceo since 2015, and over the past six months, his duties have been covered by the retailer’s chief financial officer Fiona Greiner and chief operating officer Tom Athron.
Kavan, who has been a vice president at Amazon for nine years and who is currently vice president, international special projects, will take up his new role on March 19.
During his time at Amazon, Kavan led several initiatives to improve the Amazon customer experience globally, Matchesfashion said. In addition to driving core Amazon businesses including U.K. and EU consumables, he led the development of several global strategic initiatives, launched businesses such as Amazon Fresh in the EU and Japan, and built key strategic partnerships, including with Morrisons in the U.K.
He has been involved in retailing for more than 25 years and has helped build multichannel businesses in the U.K. and Asia. He has a degree in applied sciences and computer technology from PSG College of Technology in India, and completed his business education at Manchester Business School and Harvard Business School.
He is also deputy chairman of In Kind Direct, a charity founded by Prince Charles, and has been on its board since 2012.
Kavan described Matches as “a very exciting and digitally innovative luxury lifestyle brand. I am looking forward to working with the talented team to continue to improve the business for our global customers, to help scale the business and make Matchesfashion a place in which we all feel proud to work.”
Gabriele Cipparrone, partner at Apax Partners and member of the board of directors at the retailer, said Kavan’s “extensive experience in e-commerce will be of great benefit to the business as it continues to innovate and expand in the luxury e-commerce space. Apax and the Matchesfashion team are looking forward to working with Ajay over the coming years and benefiting from his strategic insights and considerable experience.”
Many challenges await Kavan in the fashion e-commerce arena, which is becoming ever more crowded and competitive, and susceptible to discounting and price wars. Customer acquisition and retention; speedy deliveries and returns, and the race to keep up with data gathering and new technology are costly, and a drag on these companies’ bottom lines.
According to the latest figures filed on Companies House, sales at Matchesfashion in the year to Jan. 31, 2019, rose 27 percent to 372 million pounds. Profits fell to 805,396 pounds after a major program of investment in operations, technology and infrastructure including the creation of a new distribution center and photo studios in London and the opening of the retailer’s 5 Carlos Place town house in Mayfair.
During his tenure as ceo, Jerome also put a focus on a mobile-first approach; introduced new services like 90-minute express delivery in London, and opened up the business to new markets including Hong Kong.
The U.S. is another major market for Matchesfashion. The team is in Los Angeles, where it has transported its town house retail concept to the city’s Frieze Art Fair.