Richemont and Alibaba will form a joint venture (JV) to launch a luxury retail platform. Photo: Reuters.
DURBAN - Luxury goods group Richemont and Alibaba will form a joint venture (JV) to launch a luxury retail platform by bringing the retail offerings of Yoox Net-A-Porter group (YNAP), the world’s leading online luxury retailer, to Chinese consumers.

Richemont acquired YNAP for 2.7 billion (R44.89bn) early this year.

Richemont said on Friday that under the partnership, YNAP and Alibaba would establish a joint venture to launch two mobile apps for YNAP’s Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter multi-brand, in-season online stores for consumers in China. Alibaba will provide technology infrastructure, marketing, payments, logistics and other technology support to the JV.

The partnership will also leverage YNAP’s strong relationship with leading luxury brands, some 950 of them being currently distributed through YNAP in China.

Johann Rupert, the chairperson of Richemont, said Chinese customers at home and abroad were 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,” Rupert said. He added that Alibaba has become the preferred online destination in China, with world class teams in technology, logistics and marketing.

The JV will launch Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter online stores on Alibaba’s Tmall Luxury Pavilion, an exclusive platform dedicated to the world’s leading luxury brands.

“Through this joint venture, we look forward to opening the important Chinese market to Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter and the luxury brands they offer their clientele. To this end, we will work with Alibaba to ensure Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter’s continuing expansion as neutral, open and sophisticated platforms,” Rupert said.

YNAP and Alibaba will also explore future offerings that enable the JV’s customers to enjoy unique and seamless online and offline shopping experiences through digitising and fully integrating the retail value chain from merchandising and marketing to payments and last-mile delivery.

Yoox Net-A-Porter chief executive Federico Marchetti said YNAP had 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. Leveraging Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter luxury brands can access a neutral and powerful platform to maximise China’s immense potential,” Marchetti said.

The chief executive of Alibaba, Daniel Zhang, said this multi-faceted partnership would bring Chinese consumers unprecedented access to the world’s leading luxury brands.

“Chinese consumers are expected to account for nearly half of the global luxury market by 2025, and through this partnership, Alibaba and YNAP will be even better positioned to capture this compelling market opportunity. As Chinese consumers continue to upgrade their lifestyles, we want to meet the desires of Alibaba’s more than 600 million users,” Zhang said.

Richemont's JSE counter closed 0.4 percent higher at R102.97 on the JSE on Friday.