Flash sale pioneer Vente-Privee eyes smartphone-driven boom

Flash sale pioneer Vente-Privee eyes smartphone-driven boom

9:09am EDT

By Dominique Vidalon and Pascale Denis

PARIS (Reuters) – Vente-Privee, the French firm that pioneered online sales events, expects the bulk of its sales in coming years to be carried out on smartphones and tablet computers, its founder and chief executive said on Tuesday. Vente-Privee, which sells luxury fashion, wine and music at steep discounts to its 19 million European members in “flash sales” that last three to five days, also expects revenue to continue to grow at a double-digit rate over the next 10 years.“The smartphone is the future; one day people will no longer be in front of their computers,” Jacques-Antoine Granjon told Reuters at the World Retail Congress. “This is the magic wand of the consumer.”

Vente-Privee currently generates 40 percent of its estimated 2013 revenue of 1.5 billion euros ($2.04 billion) via mobile devices and expects that to rise to 90 percent “rather quickly”, said Granjon, who did not give a specific timeframe.

Launched in 2001, Vente-Privee is now one of Europe’s biggest homegrown online retailers, with a presence in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Britain, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Sales were 1.3 billion euros in 2012, a year-on-year rise of 22 percent, with France accounting for 80 percent of the total.

The group, whose model is to negotiate large discounts with brands carrying excess stock, employs 2,000 people. It has been profitable since 2004, with a net sales margin of 5-7 percent.

In recent years, Vente-Privee has branched out from its origins in clothing into wine, travel and music.

Vente-Privee began operating in the United States in 2011 in a joint venture with American Express. It achieved sales of $25 million euros in the U.S. last year, and expects to double that this year, Granjon said.

In Europe, Vente-Privee has seen its model copied by rivals such as Brand Alley.

While Vente-Privee dominates the region, it faces competition in the U.S. from flash-sales companies including market leader Gilt Groupe, Rue La La, HauteLook and Ideelia, as well as from e-commerce giants including Amazon, which has its own flash-sales site – MyHabit.com.

Granjon and the other founders own 80 percent of the group. The U.S. private equity fund Summit Partners took a 20 percent stake in 2007.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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