EBay to Buy Brands4friends to Boost Fashion Sales

EBay Inc., the largest e-commerce marketplace, agreed to buy Brands4friends, Germany’s biggest online shopping club, to increase fashion sales in Europe.

EBay will pay $200 million in the deal, the San Jose, California-based company said today. EBay will also gain Brands4friends’ equity stakes in U.K. shopping club SecretSales.com and in Japan’s brands4friends.jp.

Online shopping clubs account for about 20 percent of Web fashion sales in Europe, EBay said, citing its own research. EBay gets more than $5.4 billion annually from fashion sales.

“The move is designed to strengthen EBay’s position as a leading online fashion destination in Europe,” the company said.

The 3.5 million registered club members at Brands4friends in Germany are eligible to buy goods from clothing and “lifestyle” brands at reduced prices.

“We are optimistic about the outlook, especially for fashion, where the switch to online from offline continues,” Stephan Zoll, head of EBay Germany, said in a telephone interview today.

The focus for now will be on Germany, said Zoll, adding that EBay “will be able to leverage Brands4friends’ expertise internationally.”

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