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Alibaba’s Luxury Venture With Richemont Goes Online in China

Thomas Mulier

(Bloomberg) -- Richemont and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s luxury joint venture has gone live in China, presenting 130 brands in one location on the Tmall e-commerce site.

Tom Ford, Brunello Cucinelli and Jimmy Choo join Richemont brands Cartier, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin on the site. Investors have awaited details on the partnership since the companies announced it about a year ago.

The venture, called Feng Mao, will start a launch campaign for the platform in the second week of October, after China’s Golden Week holidays, the companies said Monday. That gives time to promote the business ahead of China’s Nov. 11 Singles’ Day holiday, when unmarried couples shower each other with gifts.

Richemont is leading luxury-goods makers in e-commerce expansion after acquiring high-end internet retailers YNAP and Watchfinder. It’s a way for the Swiss company to capture Chinese consumers -- who Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang has said may make up almost half of the global luxury market by 2025 -- without the expense of opening physical stores.

Last year, Singles’ Day brought in $31 billion in revenue to Alibaba, making it one of the biggest events in e-commerce ever.

Feng Mao is 51% owned by Richemont, while Alibaba holds 49%, and will operate the site under the Swiss company’s Net-a-Porter brand. The venture hired Yating Wu, a former Unilever manager, as its chief executive officer in recent months.

(Updates with details on timing in third paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Mulier in Geneva at tmulier@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at epfanner1@bloomberg.net

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