LONDON — Yoox, the Bologna, Italy-based e-commerce site that specializes in discounted, end-of-season designer collections, has received $5.8 million (converted from 5 million euros at current exchange) from Benchmark Capital, the international venture capital fund — and one of the first investors in eBay.
In addition, Federico Marchetti said Yoox’s sales are growing 100 percent annually, and that it plans to close 2003 with about $25 million to $27 million in sales.
“We were not looking for the money from Benchmark — we had already done our budget, and were in good shape,” said Marchetti in an exclusive interview. “We’re going to use the money to establish a presence in the Far East, and expand our business in the U.S. — which, for the month of September, was our number one market.”
Yoox claims more than 200,000 customers in 16 countries, and has made more than 209,000 deliveries since it went live in September 2000. Currently, it stocks 1,240 brands, a quarter of which are top brands like Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Marni, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent.
As reported, on Oct. 28 Yoox will unveil “A Tribute to Polly Mellen,” a vintage sale featuring 150 iconic fashion items that emerged during Mellen’s 50-year career.
Marchetti said Yoox plans to set up an Asian arm, based in Japan or China, and by the end of 2004, the U.S. market would be as big as Europe. Yoox plans to invest some of the Benchmark funds in setting up an American warehouse and delivery hub, and is in the process of sealing a deal with a logistics company. Yoox also will invest in offices and personnel to have a local presence in the U.S. market.
Other money has been earmarked for expanding Yoox’s merchandising and buying teams. Marchetti said the goal was to conduct more market research, get new designers onto the site and add designers from such markets as the U.K. and Japan. Yoox employs about 50 people.
Mark Evans, general partner at Benchmark, said the investment was the fund’s first foray into the fashion world, and the fund was impressed with Yoox’s creativity. “Federico and his team are creative, smart and entrepreneurial. Fashion is an industry where there is a lot of creativity, but not with things like supply chains and business structure,” he said in a telephone interview.
Benchmark is a $500 million fund that specializes in early-stage venture capital. It has six e-commerce-related companies in its portfolio, including eBay; Ebags, which sells luggage, and Betfair, an on-line peer-to-peer betting exchange.