LONDON, United Kingdom — Farfetch is in talks to hire Net-a-Porter founder Dame Natalie Massenet in an advisory role, according to a report in the Daily Mail. An anonymous source at Farfetch confirmed the report to BoF. Both Farfetch and Massenet declined to comment.
While the exact nature of Massenet's potential role at Farfetch is unclear, it is unlikely to be in a full-time capacity, given that Massenet has set up her own advisory firm, Imaginary Ventures, and is also said to have other projects in the pipeline.
In September 2015, Massenet announced her departure from The Net-a-Porter Group, just weeks before a merger was finalised with Italy’s Yoox Group. Massenet is believed to have been held to a 12-month non-compete clause which would have expired in September 2016, though it has not been possible to confirm the exact the duration of the non-compete period.
Massenet's appointment would be a major boost for Farfetch, which is readying for an IPO as early as next year. Founder José Neves previously told BoF that he would not consider an IPO for the next two or three years, but Massenet's leadership and experience in building Net-a-Porter into a global fashion brand could help to accelerate Farfetch's long-awaited exit.
In May, Farfetch closed a $110 million Series F round, at a valuation of around $1.5 billion. To date, the company has raised over $300 million from a group of investors including Condé Nast International, IDG Capital Partners, Index Ventures, Novel TMT and Vitruvian Partners.
Farfetch connects consumers with a curated global network of luxury boutiques and brands. Though the company is not profitable, it expects to surpass gross sales of more than $800 million this year, up 60 percent from 2015, with estimated annual revenues in the region of $200 million. (Farfetch is said to take a 25 percent commission from partners).
The company says it is now the world’s top luxury online shopping destination measured by traffic, outperforming competitors including Yoox Net-a Porter and Neiman Marcus, according to data from web analytics firm Alexa. To date, the platform has attracted about 1,500 boutiques and over 200 brands, including Roksanda Illincic, Paul Smith, JW Anderson and Proenza Schouler. It also offers agency and white-label solutions for brands, dubbed Black & White, which counts Christopher Kane, Manolo Blahnik and AMI as clients.
Having recently appointed Stephanie Phair to the newly-created role of chief strategy officer, Massenet would be Farfetch’s second major former Net-a-Porter hire. Phair was previously president of TheOutnet.com and was part of the executive team at The Net-a-Porter Group from 2009 to 2015.
Since leaving Net-a-Porter, Massenet has remained quiet about her future plans, instead spending time on her role as chairman of the British Fashion Council (BFC) where she has been focused on transforming the annual Fashion Awards into an international fundraising gala. On Friday, the BFC announced that the new awards format, held on December 5th, had raised a total of £700,000 to support British fashion education and talent.