Yoox Takes Marni Brand to China to ‘Fill the Gap’ for E-Luxury

Yoox SpA Chief Executive Officer Federico Marchetti
Yoox SpA Chief Executive Officer Federico Marchetti. Photographer: Alex Majoli/AFP/Getty Images

Yoox SpA plans to open a second e-commerce site in China next month to tap growing online demand for luxury goods in the Asian country.

The site for the Marni fashion brand will go live on March 1, after the online retailer established a Chinese Internet service for Emporio Armani in November, Yoox Chief Executive Officer Federico Marchetti said in a phone interview.

Marni and Armani will be the only European luxury goods brands with an e-commerce site operating from China, Marchetti said. About 450 million Chinese are connected to the Internet, making the country the world’s most-populated online market, and the number is growing by about 100 million annually, he said.

“Delivering to China is different from having operations in China,” Marchetti said. “The only way to do China seriously is from China.”

Yoox, based in Bologna, Italy, opened an office and logistics center in Shanghai last year. The company operates online retailing and distribution for fashion and luxury goods brands including Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana.

Luxury goods are set to be China’s fastest-growing consumer category over the next five years, according to brokerage CLSA. Customers from mainland China may account for 44 percent of global luxury sales by 2020, CLSA estimated in a Jan. 19 report.

Most Chinese e-commerce retailers focus on the low end of the apparel and accessories market, according to Marchetti. “We have gone to fill the gap” for luxury, he said.

Yoox will introduce two or three more e-commerce sites in China in 2011, including thecorner.com, its online multi-brand retail business, Marchetti said. It will also accelerate luxury brand openings over the next few years. The CEO said he expects China to become one of the company’s top three markets by 2015.

The U.S. will likely become Yoox’s biggest market in 2011 after sales in the country exceeded Italy for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2010, Marchetti said.

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