BEIJING — Former Land’s End boss Federica Marchionni will spearhead Chinese online retailer Secoo’s overseas expansion as its new chief executive officer for international and group chief strategy officer.
The appointment was revealed Monday by the leading premium lifestyle e-commerce platform. She will be based in Beijing, reporting directly to company founder and group ceo Richard Li. Marchionni has been consulting for Secoo since March.
Secoo has made a flurry of moves in recent weeks as it signals it is open to doing business more internationally. Last week, it revealed a linkup with textiles and fashion conglomerate Shandong Ruyi, and before that, a three-way partnership with JD.com, China’s second-largest overall e-commerce platform, and L Catterton Asia, designed to usher a number of the fund’s portfolio brands onto the platform.
While China’s online market still has much room to grow, Secoo ceo Li said in a phone interview that the firm’s international expansion was necessary for two reasons.
“Of our product selection, around 80 percent are from overseas and only around 20 percent from China,” Li said. “So to keep on growing, we must go everywhere in the world to source. Right now, we have offices in Milan in Italy, New York, Malaysia and Hong Kong. We soon plan to set up in Japan, South Korea and Australia.”
Secondly, he said, “Everybody knows that affluent Chinese consumers are traveling internationally and spending, so we hope we can continue serving Chinese customers wherever they are, providing the best experience.”
In her new role, Marchionni shared that she would work on developing a customer base in non-Chinese markets, focusing first on the Chinese diaspora, as well as piloting an English version of the platform and app, before exploring other languages.
The job marks a return to high-end fashion for Marchionni, who started her career at consumer and tech companies Samsung, Phillips and Ericsson, and went on to hold senior positions at Ferrari and Dolce & Gabbana.
In 2015 she stepped into the ceo role for the publicly listed Land’s End, but her tenure at the Wisconsin-headquartered casualwear brand was short-lived, lasting about a year and a half.
“I think that I am grateful for that experience because I learned about online and a lot about being a public figure in a public company, but definitely it was not the perfect fit. I think I belong in the luxury world,” Marchionni said.
Describing what was top of her agenda at Secoo, she said, “The first priority is to work directly with the brands. The fact that I worked in brands before means I know what their priorities are, how to reach between a retailer and the brand to make a win-win partnership in a very strategic way. There are many that want to grow their China business, and many that need to move faster in their online business in general. We can be the player who can help them do so.”
Secoo is only available in China for the time being, but the firm hopes to get international orders up and running sometime “between the end of the year and next year,” she said.
“Secoo also offers what is the best of China,” Marchionni said. “A lot of product that is exclusively made here, high-end products and some Chinese art. There are Chinese that live around the world we can tap, from Canada to Europe, and then after will be the Canadians or Europeans and Americans.”
While those moves may pit the platform further against Western luxury retailers like Net-a-porter, Matchesfashion and more, Marchionni underscored Secoo as a multicategory retailer that offers everything from fine foods to fashion and travel services.
She added, “That’s why I was always interesting [to Secoo]. I did automotive with Ferrari, I did online, and fashion, but it was not just fashion. It’s very much diversifying the offer. They will be competitors for sure, but in one category. Our goal is to provide our people a premium lifestyle — anything that they need from travel to spa treatments to education and food and everything premium.”
Marchionni, who already speaks four languages, shared she will start learning Mandarin, something her 10-year-old son has been doing for nearly three years now.
“I want to spend as much possible time in Beijing because the team here needs to really be prepared and I want to make sure we become a very strong team,” she said.