Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Glad Rags to Riches: Net-A-Porter Founder Makes [Pounds Sterling]50m in Sale

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Glad Rags to Riches: Net-A-Porter Founder Makes [Pounds Sterling]50m in Sale

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn Consumer Business Editor

WHAT started as a search for a pair of jeans on the internet a decade ago today made former fashion journalist Natalie Massenet [pounds sterling]50 million.

The unsuccessful browse through cyberspace gave her the idea for the Net-A-Porter shopping website.

It was sold today to Swiss luxury brands group Richemont in a deal valuing the business at [pounds sterling]350million.

Speaking to the Standard the ex-Tatler fashion editor said she was "very, very happy, delighted and proud".

Net-A-Porter -- set up in a tiny Chelsea artist's studio in 2000 -- now turns over about [pounds sterling]120million and employs almost 600 people in London and New York.

Ms Massenet said the idea for the business came in 1999 when "I was looking to buy some Chloe jeans and I logged on to the internet and looked for something like Net-A-Porter and blindly assumed it existed because of how brilliantly companies like Amazon were revolutionising service.

"I thought for a luxury brand what better way to give the best service to clients than actually delivering to the door. That was the eureka moment."

Net-A-Porter is famed for its immaculate "glossy magazine" appearance and the beautiful presentation of the clothes, shoes and accessories it delivers to customers.

It features collections from 300 of the world's top designers including Alexander McQueen, Jimmy Choo and Stella McCartney with prices ranging from [pounds sterling]30 T-shirts to [pounds sterling]5,000 clutch bags.

About two million customers -- overwhelmingly women -- log on every month and the growth of the business means it is having to move out of its headquarters in Whiteleys to larger premises at the Westfield centre.

Ms Massenet will reinvest a substantial portion of her profits back into the business and will stay on as executive chairman "for many years to come".

Richemont, owner of the Cartier jewellery, Mont Blanc pen and Dunhill brands, has been an investor since the early days of the website and already owned a 20 per cent stake.

It hopes to use Net-A-Porter to help sell its own products online, a route that few luxury brands have successfully exploited. …

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