LONDON — Sven Lung believes newspaper groups and online retailers make a potentially prosperous match.
Lung, founder and chief executive officer of the French online private sales site BrandAlley, expanded earlier this year into the U.K. with help from one of his newest shareholders, News International Ltd., the British newspaper division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Earlier this month, Rob Feldman, formerly M&A and U.K. and Europe corporate development director for News International, became ceo of BrandAlley’s U.K. division.
“Right now, newspapers have no capacity to ‘know’ their readers. Online retailers, on the other hand, can measure everything about their visitors from one click. Investing in e-tailing is a way for newspapers to target specific communities, grab margins and monetize their assets,” said Lung.
News International, which publishes titles including The Times of London, The Sun and News of the World, took a minority stake in BrandAlley earlier this year. Other investors include Banexi Ventures Partners and CDC Entreprises.
The 38-year-old, French-born Lung, a former fund manager and serial Internet entrepreneur, founded BrandAlley, now one of France’s top online sales sites, in 2005.
The members-only site does not hold any merchandise, but acts as a discount shop window, holding flash sales of new and excess stock for more than 300 brands, including Alexander McQueen, Azzaro, Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent, Cartier, Dior, Chopard and Lancôme.
It offers up to 80 percent off retail prices, and has also held sales for nonfashion luxury items, including Champagne, foie gras and oysters. Lung said he expects revenue to double next year from the current 50 million euros, or $69 million at current exchange, to 100 million euros, or $138 million. The company does not release profit figures.
Lung said the company has 4.5 million unique visitors in France and one million in the U.K. annually, and ships about 150,000 products each month. He said there are no plans to expand into the United States, and his immediate goal is to “penetrate and saturate” the French and British markets.