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Farfetch buys a London landmark

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Farfetch, the multibrand online retailer valued at $1bn earlier this year, has done some shopping of its own and acquired iconic London-based retailer Browns for an undisclosed sum.

Building on 45 years of Browns heritage and combining it with “the expertise and unique merchandising approach of Farfetch,” the acquisition will evolve the Browns brand both offline and online, creating a pioneering mix of technology and in-store experience.  A continuation of the Farfetch omni-channel growth strategy, this is part of a long-term plan to develop a global technology platform that will shape the retail experience of the future, the unicorn said in a statement released yesterday.

“The vision is to answer the question ‘How will people shop for luxury fashion 5 or 10 years into the future?’ This won’t be purely online. The answer, we believe, will be a seamless merge of a fantastic physical experience with powerful, yet subtle technology. Browns is the perfect partner for this evolution,” commented José Neves, CEO and founder of Farfetch.

Holli Rogers, former Fashion Director at Net-a-Porter, will join as CEO of Browns, responsible for taking the brand the Burstein family has built and evolving it both on and offline. The Browns brand and business will run completely independently to the Farfetch business, keeping its strong DNA but leveraging Farfetch resources and its world-class, global technology platform.

Founded in 1970 by Joan Burstein, otherwise known as ‘Mrs B’, the iconic London boutique is renowned for championing young design talent including John Galliano, whose graduate collection Mrs B bought and displayed in the store’s window, as well as Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Roksanda Illincic. The prestigious retailer is credited for its continuous search of creativity and originality. This makes it a natural fit for a partnership with Farfetch, which brings together over 300 independent designer boutiques from around the world.

The Burstein family will remain advisors to the business with both Simon and Caroline Burstein retaining a seat on the board of directors and Mrs B appointed ‘Honorary Chairman’.

"We have been a very successful partner of Farfetch for over two years and have enjoyed the journey” said Burstein. “We are delighted to be able to announce that this is the next step for Browns and we couldn't think of a better, more forward-thinking partner to take the reins and respond to the challenges of the future."

Caroline Burstein commented: “This will be an exciting journey for all of us as it will give the company a unique opportunity to become global yet remain a truly personal brand.”

To execute this vision on the technology side, Farfetch has created a new business unit called ‘Store of the Future’ which will be led by Sandrine Deveaux as Managing Director. Under Deveaux’s leadership this new team will develop and test new innovations in retail technology and omni-channel at Browns; before rolling these out across the Farfetch community of 300 boutiques.

 

Published on Wednesday 13 May by Veebs Sabharwal

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