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Farfetch to bolster international teams and customer service following £12m injection

Farfetch.com will invest in international expansion and customer service, following an injection of $18m (£11.7m) earlier this week.

The business will use the money - from groups Index Ventures, Advent Venture Partners, and its first investor, eVenture Capital Partners – to strengthen its customer service, technology, online marketing, general business development, account management and logistics teams.

According to José Neves, Farfetch founder and chief executive, the aim will be to increase headcount from 150 to 220 within 18 months, depending on growth.  

“We’ve been growing at 200% year on year, but we have to be very careful as the market is uncertain. That we’ve been growing fast is no guarantee of future performance, but we really need to expand the team,” said Neves.

Regions earmarked for expansion include the US, where the company already has a Los Angeles office, and Brazil. A New York office, with former sales director at BCBG MaxAzria, Dara Gary heading up business development, seeking out new boutiques to work with, will complement the LA operation.

Brazil, also, will be key to growth.

Neves said: “Unlike China, Brazil has its own high end and luxury designers and a developed fashion industry. It’s a country exploding in terms of ecommerce - it’s Groupon’s number two in the world. Brazil is exploding in terms of growth in so many categories but not in full price fashion, so that‘s an opportunity.”

Farfetch’s marketplace model – where customers can access labels through boutiques on the Farfetch site – will be tweaked to match the Brazilian market, where monolabel stores are common and multi-label and department stores are rare. This will mean working more directly with designers.

“In Brazil there aren’t many relevant multi-label stores so we’ve had to tweak our model, working with designers’ flagships as if they’re boutiques,” said Neves.

Farfetch, which has been in Brazil for two years building visibility and customer service, as well as its Portuguese language edition, has signed up 70 designers.

The company has also taken measures to improve its customer service, having faced complaints about fulfilment and poor customer service from blogs and forums in its first 18 months.

Introducing service upgrades, free returns and collection service, and delivery duty paid sales to the US and Brazil, as well as a better inventory control system have helped make a difference.

Since launch, Farfetch has attracted over 56,000 customers in 100 countries.

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