Yoox Net-a-Porter Group is set to become a “significant and sustainable online player” in the Chinese market, its owner Richemont said today after signing a strategic global partnership with Alibaba Group.
Under the joint venture deal, YNAP and Alibaba will launch two mobile apps for Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter in China.
The two multi-brand sites will also launch on Alibaba’s Tmall Luxury Pavilion. The platform was launched in 2017 and aims to recreate the offline luxury shopping experience online.
Alibaba will provide the technology infrastructure, marketing, payments, logistics and other technology to support to the joint venture, which will focus on serving consumers in China and Chinese tourists abroad.
Johann Rupert, chairman of Richemont, said: “Chinese customers at home and abroad are an increasingly important customer base for Richemont and for the broader luxury industry.
“Our digital offering in China is in its infancy and we believe that partnering with Alibaba will enable us to become a significant and sustainable online player in this market.”
Federico Marchetti, CEO of YNAP, added: “Yoox Net-a-Porter has always built long-term relationships with its brand partners, protecting and nurturing the finest luxury names online. Together with Alibaba, we will offer our brand partners the same quality and reliability for the Chinese online market.”
Chinese consumers are expected to account for nearly half of the global luxury market by 2025, while Alibaba Group has more than 600 million users.
”This multi-faceted partnership will bring Chinese consumers unprecedented access to the world’s leading luxury brands,” said Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group. ”Through this partnership, Alibaba and YNAP will be even better positioned to capture this compelling market opportunity.”
Rupert said he was confident the luxury brands stocked on Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter would see the benefit of the joint venture.
“We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t think it would be advantageous for all of our brands. I’ve spoken in the past to the owners and managers of some of the maisons about the inevitable convergence of online and offline, I don’t think there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind that the new luxury shopping experience will be in a different form.
“We’ve only been in discussions with Alibaba for a short time. We haven’t had time to discuss [the deal] with all of our brand partners, but we will soon. In the discussions I have had, everybody is excited about China and Chinese travellers.”
Alibaba has taken steps over the years to curtail the sale of counterfeit goods on its sites. Asked about the potential risk to YNAP’s luxury brands, Rupert said: ”We would never enter a situation where we feel uncomfortable about counterfeiting.
”We’ve looked at their anti-counterfeiting systems and I’m satisfied it is a very low risk scenario and that the benefits outweigh any potential risk by such a margin.”