December 20, 2010, 12:23 PM

eBay to buy a German private-sale apparel site

The online marketplace will spend $200 million for Brands4friends.

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EBay Inc. today said it will buy Brands4friends, a Germany-based e-commerce operator that focuses on fashion and lifestyle items. EBay says it has signed an agreement to pay about $200 million for the site.

The German company, founded in 2007, has 3.5 million members, eBay says. The private-sale site, brands4friends.de, offers those members products from about 600 brands. Participating brands include Buffalo, Calvin Klein and Diesel. Sales last for a limited time and include off-season and overstock items.

“With the acquisition of brands4friends, we will enter the online shopping club market with an established and dynamic partner who has the expertise, relationships and passion to match our own ambition,” says Doug McCallum, senior vice president for eBay in Europe. “We expect many eBay customers will enjoy great deals on international fashion brands by joining the brands4friends community.”

EBay says that its own research shows that online shopping clubs account for approximately 20% of online fashion sales in Europe.

The acquisition also will give eBay the stakes now held by brands4friends in British online shopping club SecretSales.com and the Japanese version of the German site, brands4friends.jp. The online marketplace expects to close the deal in the first quarter of 2011.

The purchase will strengthen eBay’s apparel business in Europe, says Colin Sebastian, an analyst for Lazard Capital Markets. “EBay already generates more than $5.4 billion annually in volume from clothing, shoes and accessories, and views the category as an important growth driver,” he writes in a research note today. He says that the German site is adding up to 10,000 members each day and in September achieved daily sales of 1 million euros (US$1.3 million).

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