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MatchesFashion Names New CEO

Ajay Kavan joins the luxury e-tailer from Amazon, replacing Ulric Jerome, who left the company in late 2019.
MatchesFashion's 5 Carlos Place store in Mayfair, London | Source: Courtesy
By
  • Rachel Deeley

LONDON, United Kingdom — MatchesFashion has hired a new chief executive from Amazon, as the company seeks to consolidate its position as a leading luxury e-commerce platform.

Effective March 19, 2020, Ajay Kavan joins the online luxury retailer from Amazon, where he was a vice president for nine years, most recently vice president, international special projects. During his time at the e-commerce giant, Kavan held a leading role in global initiatives and launched Amazon Fresh in the EU and Japan.
“Ajay’s extensive experience in e-commerce will be of great benefit to the business as it continues to innovate and expand in the luxury e-commerce space,” said Gabriele Cipparrone, partner at Apax Partners and member of the board of directors at MatchesFashion.

He succeeds Ulric Jerome, who abruptly exited in August 2019 after six years at the company and four years at its helm. Since his departure, Chief Financial Officer Fiona Greiner and Chief Operating Officer Tom Athron have carried out the responsibilities of CEO.

MatchesFashion has made heavy investment in infrastructure, such as a new office in Hong Kong, photographic studio in East London and consumer-facing townhouse in London’s Mayfair neighbourhood, to the detriment of its operating profit, which plummeted 89 percent to £2.4 million for the full-year ending January 31, 2019. This was in spite of 27 percent sales growth to £372 million.

Kavan assumes the top job amid a challenging time in the luxury e-commerce space, with online multi-brand retailers across the board struggling to expand their businesses profitably. 

Competitor Yoox Net-a-Porter Group attempted an expensive tech and logistics overhaul that dragged down the profit margin of owner Richemont and saw losses widen to €194 million in the first half of fiscal 2020, up from €115 million, while Farfetch has seen a net fall in share prices since going public in September 2018. 

In September 2017, Apax Partners acquired a majority stake in MatchesFashion in a deal that reportedly valued the company at $1 billion, after which founders Tom and Ruth Chapman stepped away from the C-suite and entered advisory roles. The couple had stepped down in July 2015 after serving as joint CEOs for 27 years, with Jerome — then chief operating officer — named as their successor. 

Editor's Note: This article was revised on February 12, 2020. An earlier version of this article misstated that Tom and Ruth Chapman fully exited MatchesFashion following its acquisition by Apax in 2017. This is incorrect. They both remained advisers to the company, with Tom Chapman currently sitting on the Matches board. The article has also been updated to state that MatchesFashion has an office in Hong Kong, not a new warehouse in Hong Kong.

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