Farfetch hard luxury

LONDON — Farfetch is forging ahead with its growth trajectory.

On Tuesday, the retail giant revealed further hires to strengthen its management team, with the appointment of Kshitij Kumar as chief data officer.

Kumar, who previously held roles at Zalando and technology companies like Ericsson, will be focused on spearheading AI and data science-focused initiatives.

His appointment follows a number of internal moves to beef up the company’s management: Holli Rogers was named chief brand officer, a new role, while continuing to head Browns as its chief executive officer; Kelly Kowal has been named executive vice president, Farfetch Platform Solutions, and Sandrine Deveaux was given the role of executive vice president, Store of the Future.

John Veichmanis, the retailer’s chief marketing officer, has exited the business.

“These changes continue to boost our capabilities and sharpen our strategic execution with dedicated focus on key initiatives,” said Farfetch’s ceo and co-chairman José Neves. “They reflect the importance of our strategic priority to build our brand – blending both the ‘art’ of building a fashion brand and the ‘science’ involved in building a world-class, data-driven [company]. The changes also speak to the rapid growth of Farfetch Platform Solutions in recent months, following the acquisition of Curiosity China, our innovation partnership with Chanel and our agreement with Harrods to create an e-commerce offering for the department store.”

After continuous investment in its China business, the retailer has also just launched a flagship store on JD.com, one of China’s largest online companies and a Farfetch investor.

The launch follows the acquisition of Toplife, JD.com’s independent luxury shopping platform, by Farfetch China and builds on the ongoing partnership between JD and Farfetch: In 2017, JD.com invested $397 million in the luxury platform and as part of the deal Farfetch has been utilizing JD.com’s logistical capabilities to operate in the region.

Now, Farfetch has also been granted “Level 1” access on the JD.com app, which will enable it to offer up to 3,000 luxury brands to the app’s audience, amounting to more than 300 million customers.

“We can now offer JD.com’s customers direct access to the broadest selection of luxury fashion online, while luxury brands get the premier luxury gateway to China for executing on their digital strategy in the region,” said Judy Liu, Farfetch’s China managing director.

Investing in start-ups and innovations continues to be a priority for Farfetch, which has also just introduced a handbag resale service driven by start-ups under its Dream Assembly umbrella specializing in bag authentication services.

On Tuesday afternoon, the retailer hosted a gathering to celebrate the start-ups under the second cohort of the Dream Assembly program — its fashion and tech accelerator — which are all focused on sustainability and were offered mentor sessions and access to Farfetch resources over the course of a 10-week program.

“People ask why we need to think about innovation at such an early stage of our investment cycle, as Farfetch is a pretty innovative company itself but innovation can’t be just internal and we’re a platform, the ultimate vision is to be able to integrate other start-ups on it,” said Neves, adding that the program has also been a valuable source of inspiration for the Farfetch teams involved. “The feedback is that our teams come out energized, because after 10 years you can often lose the entrepreneurial spirit.”

Some of the companies highlighted during the event included the Australia-based Good on You, a source for ethical brand ratings; the AI-powered wardrobe management app Save Your Wardrobe; To the Market, which offers brands and retailers ethical manufacturing solutions from its wide network of suppliers, as well as the online European fashion rental service Panoply City.

The France-based Panoply, which offers users a 99 euros per month subscription to rent up to three luxury clothing items every month said that having reached a turnover of 1 million euros since its launch in 2017, it plans to expand its services to the U.K. and other European territories and focus on “unlocking the shift from purchase to experience.”

Another start-up to note from Farfetch’s cohort is the U.K.-based Thrift, which is banking on the potential of the second-hand market and working towards providing the best resale experience, with on-demand delivery services and automated photography that enable the company to upload a product on eBay in as little as four minutes.

The start-up, which sells 20,000 pounds worth of second-hand clothes every month, is now “fully operational, ready to scale” and seeking investment.