Yoox Net-a-Porter is eyeing the Middle East, having sold a €100m stake to Alabbar Enterprises, the Dubai-based owner of Emaar Properties, which includes the Dubai Mall: the world's most visited lifestyle destination.
“The world’s biggest online retailer is joining forces with the world’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer,” Federico Marchetti, Yoox Net-a-Porter CEO, said.
For Marchetti, who became CEO of the newly merged company in March 2015, this is his boldest move yet.
When Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massanet stepped down from the business last year, there was uncertainty about how it would be driven forward because Massanet is widely regarded as the darling of the luxury fashion industry. But this deal, which values the the online luxury pureplay at €3.744bn, emphasises the strength of the business under Marchetti's leadership.
Marchetti said that the money from the sale will go towards developing an integrated platform across the group’s brands, as well as to fund increased localisation of websites, especially in Middle Eastern countries.
While Yoox and Net-a-Porter deliver to 180 countries, there is not currently a website in Arabic despite Middle Eastern shoppers representing 5% of the luxury market. The e-tailer said the Middle East was a “marginal” contributor to net revenue, which reached €1.7bn overall in 2015.
“We are not seeing any deceleration in demand," Marchetti said in comment on the state of the Middle Eastern market. "We have big plans for the region.”