Potential bidders emerge for Richemont's Yoox Net-a-Porter amid ongoing losses

Swiss luxury group Richemont is seeking a buyer for its struggling ecommerce business Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP). According to sources, potential bidders include:

  • Mytheresa: German-based luxury online retailer listed in New York
  • Bain Capital: Private equity firm
  • Permira: Private equity firm looking at a potential deal through its portfolio company BestSecret, a Germany-based retail club

However, potential suitors have expressed reservations about agreeing to a deal due to YNAP's ongoing losses, which are expected to continue in the coming years, making the business difficult to value. One potential bidder described it as "very much a turnaround type case."

While Mytheresa declined to comment specifically on a YNAP bid, it stated: "Mytheresa is constantly evaluating opportunities to grow our business, which may include M&A activities from time to time."

Richemont has been seeking a new buyer for YNAP since a deal to sell a 47.5% stake to rival Farfetch fell apart late last year amid Farfetch's own financial troubles. Farfetch was subsequently acquired by South Korean retail giant Coupang.

YNAP has been a problem for Richemont for years, with investors pressuring the group to offload the business. Richemont has booked €1.8bn in non-cash writedowns on YNAP so far, and the division posted a €128mn loss in the first half of the current financial year. The losses are expected to persist into 2025.

Richemont acquired Net-a-Porter in 2010 and merged it with Yoox in 2015 in a challenging deal that saw the departure of Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet. A troubled technology and logistics overhaul then cost hundreds of millions of euros over several years.

The luxury ecommerce sector thrived in the low interest rate environment post-financial crisis, as brands were slow to embrace online sales. However, costs soared just as brands took back control of their online channels, and slow progress towards profitability dimmed investor enthusiasm.

The search for a new owner for YNAP comes amid a reckoning over the viability of luxury ecommerce sites following the implosion of several rivals since the pandemic. 

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