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Vente-Privee Seeks $11 Billion Revenue With Flash Sales Online

Antik Batik capsule collection for Vente-Privée | Source: Vente-Privée
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  • Bloomberg

PARIS, France — Vente-Privee.com, France's third most-popular online retailer behind Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc., plans to more than quadruple revenue in the next decade by extending the model of flash sales that it pioneered at home.

The retailer, partly owned by Qatar Holding LLC, is aiming for annual sales of 6 billion euros to 8 billion euros ($11 billion) by about 2024, founder Jacques-Antoine Granjon said in an interview at his office on the outskirts of Paris.

Granjon developed the practice of flash sales — where goods are offered at a discount for a limited period online — in France in 2001 and is now expanding into the rest of Europe and the U.S. Revenue rose 23 percent to 1.6 billion euros in 2013 as shoppers splurged on products from 20-euro Reebok sneakers to 2,300-euro three-week road trips in the U.S.

“The flash sales model works in Europe,” where the La Plaine Saint-Denis, France-based company distributes branded products in eight countries, Granjon said. “I don’t see why we can’t do well in every other European country.”

Vente-Privee is focusing on demand for bargains in its home region and in the U.S. as online retailers from Asos Plc to Yoox SpA expand in fast-growing markets such as China. The company’s French website gets 840,000 daily visits, ranking it behind Amazon, with 1.51 million visits, and eBay with 1.03 million, according to e-commerce association Fevad.

“We could grow quicker, but that would mean giving up some profitability to invest in notoriety,” said Granjon, who is chairman and chief executive officer of Vente-Privee. “I’d rather go slower and be profitable.”

Profit was about 5 percent of sales in 2013, he said.

American Express

While sales are rising fastest outside of France, Vente- Privee’s home market still generates about 80 percent of revenue, according to Granjon. The company’s goal is for Europe, excluding France, to account for about half of sales, he said, without specifying a deadline.

Sales in the U.S., which Vente-Privee entered in 2011 through a joint venture with American Express Co., doubled to $50 million last year. The unit, based in Manhattan, should break even next year, said the long-haired entrepreneur.

The potential in the U.S. is “huge,” Granjon said. Still, it will take time to attract and retain consumers in such a crowded market, he said. The retailer will seek to differentiate itself by developing a compelling roster of promotions, he said.

“When you arrive like a little bird, there are a lot of monsters,” Granjon said. Vente-Privee, which competes with Gilt Groupe Inc. and Rue La La in the U.S., has more than 1 million members there, compared with about 20 million in Europe.

Qatar Holding bought a minority stake in Vente-Privee in December. The investment is an endorsement of the retailer’s strategy and may open opportunities to work with other businesses in which the fund has stakes such as department-store chain Harrods, Granjon said.

The entrepreneur has no immediate plans for an initial public offering and doesn’t need to raise money to fund growth, he said.

By Andrew Roberts, Marie Mawad; Editors: Paul Jarvis, Robert Valpuesta, Celeste Perri

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