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LVMH raises luxury e-commerce stakes with multi-brand website launch

Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 15:53

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LVMH is raising the stakes in luxury e-commerce, setting up its first multi-brand site in eight years that puts brands like Louis Vuitton alongside those of rivals such as Gucci and Prada.

[PARIS] LVMH is raising the stakes in luxury e-commerce, setting up its first multi-brand site in eight years that puts brands like Louis Vuitton alongside those of rivals such as Gucci and Prada.

The new site for the company's Parisian department store Le Bon Marche will feature more than 150 luxury labels when it opens next month, the maker of Fendi handbags and Hennessy cognac said late Wednesday.

The move represents a step up in competition across the fast-growing digital side of the luxury industry as newcomers like Yoox Net-a-Porter and Farfetch battle with established brick-and-mortar department stores and luxury brands' own online flagships.

The new website will be named 24Sevres.com, after the address of the storied Left Bank department store, and will ship from France to more than 75 countries. Its initial focus will be on womenswear and 68 brands will contribute exclusive products for the launch.

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It's LVMH's first major e-commerce project since the company - full name LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA - brought in former Apple Inc music executive Ian Rogers to head digital efforts at a group level in 2015.

"It's a modest beginning, but LVMH plays a long game," Mr Rogers, the company's chief digital officer, said in an interview.

LVMH rose as much as 0.5 per cent in early trading in Paris on Thursday, while YNAP was down as much as 0.6 per cent in Milan.

The site will be LVMH's first major multi-brand e-commerce platform for fashion since the company discontinued sales on ELuxury.com in 2009. That site, which began selling high-end handbags in 2000, was an early pioneer of luxury e-commerce, but fizzled as brands pulled out in favour of selling through their own online flagships.

E-commerce efforts have been uneven across LVMH fashion brands since Louis Vuitton started selling online in 2001. Fendi started a Web store as recently as spring 2015, and Celine still has no presence, but has said it would start selling online this spring.

The latest project is being headed by Eric Goguey, former e-commerce director at LVMH's beauty emporium Sephora, whose extensive multi-brand site has been cited by the company as a driver of growth for the brand in recent quarters. In an April call with investors, LVMH chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony said the site had reached a "critical mass" to be more profitable than brick-and-mortar sales in the US.

Incorporating features like video chats with Parisian stylists, the new site represents a careful selection from a broad range of luxury brands, Mr Rogers said.

"Anything you want is already online," he said. "Consumers are looking for curators. We are building a trusted collection."

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