Mytheresa’s co-founder and managing director reveal how the German etailer has become a go-to site for luxury fashion.
When did you establish the business?
Christoph Botschen, co-founder and chief executive: My wife Susanne and I opened a store called Theresa in Munich in 1987 and our focus was always on an international, rather than a local, consumer. We still have the 14,000 sq ft store in Munich, but we launched online in 2006 to reach out to luxury consumers across the world.
How important is the UK for Mytheresa.com?
Jens Riewenherm, managing director: It is our third largest after Germany and Hong Kong. We also have great relationships with the UK designers we stock, such as Erdem and Christopher Kane. For example, we hosted a trunk show and dinner with Victoria Beckham on November 15, 2013, and invited our top 200 customers to the event, which generated lots of social media interest.
In January, you appointed former Harvey Nichols fashion director Paula Reed as creative director. She was only at the department store for a year and questions have been asked about the suitability of journalists as retailers. Why will it be different this time?
JR: She heads up one of the biggest teams in the company and one that is very important for us. Online is all about customer engagement. We have a very sophisticated, well-educated international customer and she expects a high level of content. With Paula, we are able to achieve that for the first time.
What are your best-selling categories?
CB: Right now, around 40% of what we sell is ready-to-wear, 30% is footwear, 20% is bags and the final 10% is accessories and fine jewellery. However, our footwear sales are growing.
How do you make your brand selection?
CB: We carry around 180 brands and keep a tight focus. We sell high-end fashion for the international woman and many of the brands we stock are not sold online elsewhere, because companies like Kering [whose portfolio includes Gucci, Balenciaga and Stella McCartney] or Prada know they can’t allow all of their bricks-and-mortar stockists to sell their brands online as it would dilute their DNA. We are also a shop window for the brands we stock. We have more than 5 million visits per month and more than 30 million page impressions.
What have you learned from trading internationally?
CB: There are definitely differences by region. For example, in the Middle East gowns and larger sizes sell well, while in Asia we sell lots of tiny size 34 [a UK size two] in footwear.
JR: It’s also about service. We make sure we offer local payment solutions and have customer services representatives who can speak in native languages. And we also use the DTP service from DHL, which means duties and taxes are paid in several markets, with import duties, customs and taxes paid by us.
How important is mobile for Mytheresa.com?
JR: Very important. Mobile traffic is about 30% for us. We’ve just launched a mobile-optimised newsletter that our customers can read, whereas before it was a painful experience. And we also launched a mobile-optimised website in April.
And what about social media?
JR: The most important social media channel for us is Instagram. We have a growth rate on some days of nearly 5,000 new people, and as a fashion retailer the visual nature of it suits us.
What is your growth strategy?
CB: Very much international. We were very interested in Russia, but with the recent political developments it looks less secure.
But there are other areas, such as Asia-Pacific, where we potentially plan to open an office by the end of 2015. We’re at a disadvantage there at the moment in terms of deliveries, and our customers in Japan can almost never reach us because either we are sleeping or they are. This will help us grow our business there and we plan to focus on Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, because there is less risk than entering China.
What is your turnover?
CB: We achieved €66m (£49.4m) in 2013 and this year it will be €100m (£82m). We’ve been profitable from day one.
Story of success - Mytheresa facts
● Mytheresa.com was founded in 2006 and today employs 200 people at its HQ and logistics centre in Heimstetten in Munich, Germany.
● It carries more than 180 designer collections and 80 new pieces go online each day.
● The site has enjoyed 50% or more growth each year since launch.
● International sales account for 65% of the total turnover of £82m.
● Mytheresa delivers to 120 countries and up to 2,000 orders are shipped daily.
● It has local sites for Italy, France, the UK, Switzerland, the US, Japan, the Gulf States, Hong Kong and Australia.
● 240,000 subscribe to its newsletter.
● It offers same-day delivery in Munich, 24-hour shipping in Europe and between 48 and 72 hours worldwide.