U.S. luxury specialty goods retailer Neiman Marcus has invested $28 million in Hong Kong-based e-commerce company Glamour Sales Holding.
Neiman Marcus says the deal is its first move into the luxury retail market in China. China, including Hong Kong and Macau, is now the world’s third largest market for luxury goods and 40% as big as the U.S. in this category, according to a December 2011 study by Bain & Company.
"We are taking this bold step to establish Neiman Marcus Group as an international brand," says Karen Katz, president and chief executive of Neiman Marcus. "Our strategic investment in Glamour Sales gives us a tremendous partner and a strong foothold in a rapidly expanding luxury market.”
The investment gives Neiman Marcus a 37% share in Glamour Sales, and Neiman Marcus says it will work with the company to launch an e-commerce site in China by the end of 2012. The company adds that the site will use the Neiman Marcus name and have the URL of neimanmarcus.com.cn.
The company plans to offer what it calls an “expertly curated mix of full-price, current season offerings” to Chinese luxury customers through the site, which will also feature editorial content, fashion expertise and behind-the-scenes videos.
Neiman Marcus, No. 41 in the 2012 Internet Retailer Top 500, and Glamour Sales will jointly form a new team in China to oversee the development, launch and management of the new site.
For the fiscal year ended July 28, 2012, the company’s online sales grew more than 16% year over year, from $757 million to almost $880 million.
"We have a rich, century-long heritage with two prestigious brands—Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman,” says Katz. “We believe that our vast experience and history of success in luxury and fashion, customer service and e-commerce, combined with Glamour Sales’ keen understanding of the Chinese market, presents us with a unique opportunity to build a vibrant full-price, multi-brand, luxury online business in China.”
Glamour Sales was founded in 2009 by Olivier Chouvet and Alain Soulas, who were joined later by Thibault Villet. It operates what it says are two of the largest flash-sales web sites in Asia–Glamour-Sales.com.cn in China and Glamour-Sales.com in Japan.
“We are delighted to be teaming up with the top luxury retailer in the world,” says Chouvet, CEO of Glamour Sales. “This partnership represents the coming together of two pioneers. Neiman Marcus was the first luxury retailer to go online and Glamour Sales was the first to bring authorized flash sales to China. And we will provide our customers with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that all of our luxury goods are authorized, authentic and sourced directly from the manufacturer.”