LONDON — Net-a-porter is planting its flag in China with the acquisition of Shouke Limited, an e-commerce platform whose co-founder is Adrienne Ma.
This story first appeared in the February 27, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD has learned that the Net-a-porter Group will enter China with a multiphase launch of its Web sites that will begin next month, and with the opening of a distribution center in Hong Kong.
An announcement is expected today. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
“Asia-Pacific is a core market for the Net-a-porter Group. We have been retailing to local customers in the region, and have built a strong base since our launch in 2000,” said Mark Sebba, Net-a-porter’s chief executive. “Like many businesses in the luxury sector, we have seen huge growth in recent years. This is the first step in the next chapter in the growth of the Net-a-porter Group.”
The three founders of Shouke, which was a members’-only site for discounted luxury goods, will remain on board to run the new Asia-Pacific division of Net-a-porter.
Paul Teague will be president of Asia-Pacific; Ma, whose family founded the Joyce Group, will serve as senior vice president of Asia-Pacific for merchandising, marketing and content, and Richard Chen will be president, China.
“The Shouke teams in Shanghai and Hong Kong are delighted to be joining the team at the Net-a-porter Group. We have a wealth of experience in the Asian market, where there is enormous demand for access to designer collections,” said Teague.
Net-a-porter declined to give revenue projections for the Chinese business.
The move into China will begin with The Outnet, the division of Net-a-porter that sells previous seasons’ designer clothing and accessories. Shouke.com will relaunch as Theoutnet.cn, the Chinese version of Theoutnet.com.
The new Chinese site will showcase an edited selection of merchandise from 100 international designers, with discounts of up to 80 percent.
After that launch, Net-a-porter.com will introduce a Chinese-language version of the brand’s iPad app, followed by the launch of a simplified Chinese language Web site for mainland China.
The Hong Kong distribution center will open in 2013, and will serve the Asia-Pacific region. Hong Kong customers — like those in London and Manhattan — will be offered same-day delivery. All other cities and regions worldwide will get their deliveries within 24 hours, the company said.
The Hong Kong distribution center will be the company’s third, after the U.K. and the U.S.
Mr Porter, the company’s men’s wear site, will continue to ship to customers from the U.K. distribution center. However, Net-a-porter said plans are in place to ship men’s products from the Hong Kong center and to offer a simplified Chinese language Web site at a later date.
The company is currently recruiting for specific roles across the three locations where the business will operate — the China corporate office in Shanghai, the APAC regional headquarters in Hong Kong and the distribution center in Hong Kong.