LONDON, United Kingdom — A Farfetch IPO could take place sooner than expected. According to a report by Sky News, the company is in the process of appointing bankers to manage a public listing in New York that could value Farfetch at up to $5 billion. Previous estimations of the company’s value have been closer to $1.5 billion.
Farfetch founder and CEO Jose Neves has been reticent to lay out a timetable for an IPO, however in a recent interview with BoF, he acknowledged that it was the logical next step for the company.
“We don’t have any timing,” he said. “But it is the next financial milestone for the business, that’s for sure. It’s the best way for a business to get liquidity for their investors because at the end of the day if you have investors you need to find the liquidity for them, and keep the fantastic team we have.”
Farfetch, which launched in 2008, has raised more than $350 million in venture funding, including a $110 million Series F round, and early-stage investors, including Advent and Condé Nast, stand to do very well from a successful IPO. The wider Farfetch team will also likely benefit, thanks to an initiative in which all employees are offered share options.
Farfetch has recently made a string of announcements that underscore its ambition to become the leading fashion e-commerce platform. In February, Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet joined Farfetch as non-executive co-chairman. In April, the company announced its ambitious Store of the Future concept: an “operating system” for physical retail that aims to improve productivity by capturing customer data and enhancing human interactions between shoppers and sales associates.
The Farfetch platform, which connects consumers with a curated network of boutiques and brands, is now the world’s top luxury e-commerce destination in terms of traffic, outperforming competitors like Net-a Porter and Neiman Marcus, according to data from web analytics service Alexa.
While Farfetch is not yet profitable (market reports suggest it lost around $40 million last year), it surpassed gross sales of $800 million in 2016, up 60 percent from 2015, with estimated annual revenues in the region of $150 million. (Farfetch is said to take a 25 percent commission on net revenues from partners.)
An IPO would also enable Farfetch to build a war chest big enough to do long-term battle with the likes of the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, which generated about $2 billion in net sales in 2016, with organic growth up 18 percent year-over-year. LVMH, the world's largest luxury conglomerate, is now not only a partner — many of the group’s 70+ brands are sold on Farfetch — but a direct competitor with the recent launch of its own multi-brand e-commerce site, 24 Sèvres.
Farfetch did not responded to a request for comment, but one source suggested the company could make an announcement as soon as Tuesday.