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Gilt.com enters the UK flash Sales ring

US private sales etailer Gilt.com will launch tomorrow in the UK as part of a global expansion into more than 90 countries.

The members-only site, credited with pioneering flash sales in the US in 2007, will join an swelling sector of online retailers in Europe offering insider discounts on premium brands.

Every day at 5pm Gilt’s registered shoppers gain access to more than 20 sales with up to 60% off on fashion, accessories and homewares. Membership is free to anyone who registers online at gilt.com/uk. Offers have a limited inventory and last roughly 36 hours.

The site works with more than 6,000 designer brands including Missoni, Vera Wang, Proenza Schouler, Paul Smith and Dolce & Gabbana. Kidswear brands include Jacadi, Marie Chantal and Baby Bjorn.

Founder and chief executive of Gilt Groupe, internet entrepreneur Kevin Ryan, said: “We take great pride in putting together a curated selection of designer merchandise each day, allowing our members the ability to shop current season collections at a steep discount to retail prices.”

Gilt will be up against stiff competition on this side of the Atlantic. Last month, private Sale etailer BrandAlley, which is part-owned by News International, posted a 70% boost in sales for the first nine months of the year. It gained 75,000 new customers and sales soared to £23m over the period.

Asked last month by Drapers if the sector had room for any more players, online retail consultant Leon Bailey-Green said the market is getting tougher. “There’s less fashion products available. Since the recession, brands are making less so it’s very competitive [to get brands on the sites],” he said.

Meanwhile another major flash Sale site Cocosa, which was acquired by former Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed in July, shook up the sector recently by dropping its membership wall.

Gilt.com is working with e-commerce services provider FiftyOne to extend its US site to a global audience.

Next month, Gilt.com will launch a mobile website and apps for its non-US members, while Gilt Groupe will also introduce its luxury menswear site, Park & Bond to the UK.

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