LONDON, United Kingdom — Cie. Financiere Richemont SA is considering an initial public offering of online retailer Net-a-Porter Ltd. as soon as next year, people with knowledge of the situation said.
Richemont, the world’s largest jewelry maker, has held talks with banks to discuss options for the London-based company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. It may also consider a sale, two of the people said.
Richemont, based in Geneva, bought the two-thirds of Net-a-Porter it didn’t already own in a 2010 deal that valued the retailer at 350 million pounds ($550 million). Rene Weber, an analyst at Bank Vontobel, estimates Net-a-Porter’s sales reached 580 million euros ($728 million) in the year to March and will be about 660 million euros for fiscal 2015. No final decision on a sale or IPO has been made, and Richemont may choose to keep the company.
A representative for Richemont declined to comment.
Net-a-Porter, which sells products such as $2,495 Stella McCartney blazers and $4,900 Fendi handbags, is unprofitable and has been without a chief executive officer since July. Founded by former fashion journalist Natalie Massenet in 2000, the Web retailer faces increasing competition from sites such as Matchesfashion.com and Mytheresa.com, which department-store Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. agreed to buy in September.
Richemont said last year Net-a-Porter isn’t for sale, after reports it held talks to sell the unit to Italian rival Yoox SpA. A spinoff of Net-a-Porter would also revive speculation the company could break up its fashion and leather-goods division, a move it also ruled out last year.
By Svenja O’Donnell, Francine Lacqua, Manuel Baigorri; with assistance from Andrew Roberts, Ruth David, Matthew Campbell. Editors: Celeste Perri, Elizabeth Fournier, Mohammed Hadi.