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Farfetch boss puts his ‘money where his mouth is’ with Browns venture

Farfetch chief executive and founder José Neves has said he is “putting his money where his mouth is” by acquiring London boutique Browns in order to demonstrate how new technology can boost profitability for independent retailers.

As reported by Drapers yesterday, Farfetch has created a new business unit called Store of the Future, which will develop and test new innovations in retail technology and omnichannel at Browns, before encouraging their roll out across Farfetch’s network of 300 boutiques worldwide.

Neves, who founded the etail platform in 2007, told Drapers he felt it was his “responsibility” to drive innovation in the independent retail sector.  

“It’s our responsibility to demonstrate how innovation can help sales,” he said. “It’s difficult to ask other retailers to change the way they run things and how they incentivise staff so innovation grinds to a halt. This way we can use this one boutique to show our community of boutiques and the rest of the industry how our technology and data can boost profits.”

The technology to be trialled at Browns includes mobile payments, cross-channel promotions and loyalty schemes and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that updates inventory automatically. The team will also use in-store analytics to measure how long customers spend in store and what they are looking at while there. 

“Retailers don’t use data available to them and they should. We will not be doing anything gimmicky we want to add value by not only giving the customer a superior shopping experience but by making retailers more profitable,” Neves added. “We want to see complete integration between in store and online. The way people shop is changing, customers want to shop the way they want to shop. By targeting this shopper of the future we can drive profitability in store and online.”

The Farfetch boss stressed that the firm would not be acquiring any other retail outlets and the business remains an online platform model.

Store of the Future will be led by former Harvey Nichols multichannel director Sandrine Deveaux while former Net-a-Porter fashion director Holli Rogers will join the business as chief executive of Browns in the coming weeks.

Browns founder Joan Burstein will become honorary chairman of the store and her children Simon and Caroline Burstein remain as advisors, with a seat on the board of directors.

@jillgeoghegan

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