Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than right — and it appears to be one of those rare moments in cyberspace when the two trends are on a (favorable) collision course at
The luxury accessories player, funded by Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali and Bulgari, went live with e-commerce Wednesday, in 13 more countries in Europe, from a single English-language Web site. The bold move comes six months ahead of schedule, a scant seven months after Luxlook launched in the U.S., and five months after opening in Germany and the U.K.
The new Web site ships to Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Greece, France and Italy. Users in those countries can access the multinational Web destination via the URL, while visitors from the U.S., Germany and the U.K., who want purchases shipped to a country served by the new portal, will be able to access it from a navigation feature slated to go live on those home pages Friday. Sales are transacted in euros.
Originally, Luxlook had plans to extend its European effort to Italy and France this September, but the speedier timetable brings the Web site a chance to capitalize on the region’s rapidly growing audience of cybershoppers. “ is confident that our expansion will further satisfy the large, often unfulfilled, global demand for these upscale products,” said Francesco Marini Clarelli, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Luxlook Ltd., in a statement. Clarelli was delayed on a flight from Milan to the U.S. Wednesday and could not be reached for further comment.
However, a spokeswoman for Luxlook at the dot-com’s midtown Manhattan headquarters acknowledged: “We shortened the timetable for France and Italy, in part to [benefit from] the rapid growth in Internet shoppers there. Also, our traffic coming from Europe is much heavier than from the U.S.” Although she did not provide European traffic figures, the spokeswoman said those users account for approximately 35 to 45 percent of Luxlook’s volume.
“ELuxury isn’t in Europe yet and Ashford ships to select countries in Europe, so there’s a lot less competition there than in the U.S.,” she noted, in citing the profusion of luxe e-commerce sites that went live here last year. They include, Fashion500 and eLuxury, in addition to longer-running players such as Neiman Marcus, which went live online in October 1999, and Nordstrom, which began e-tailing fashion in 1998.
Indeed, research released Wednesday, by Internet consultant Jupiter Media Metrix, showed Europe’s online usage has surged in the last nine months, as service providers began offering flat fees that included both phone-line time and ‘Net access. Between last June and February, for example, time spent online at home more than tripled in France and Spain, and nearly doubled in Britain. On average, ‘Net users in Spain and Norway spend nine hours online a month; in Italy and Denmark, it’s close to eight hours, and in France and Britain, about seven hours a month.
In other developments, Luxlook, which is based in midtown Manhattan, has redesigned the home page of its U.S., German and U.K. Web sites, and has added fashion content to them from Lisa Armstrong, fashion editor of The Times of London, who has become a contributing editor for the venture.
Luxlook expects to generate sales of roughly $25 million for its first full year, and turn a profit in its third year on volume of more than $100 million. At that time, it expects to be merchandising roughly 7,000 items under 20 brands. Currently, the portal carries between 200 and 600 items under each of its labels: Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Gianfranco Ferre, Loro Piana, Missoni, Moschino, Paul Smith, Valentino, Versace and Vivienne Westwood.