Yoox Looking at Acquisitions to Boost Business, CEO Says

Yoox SpA Chief Executive Officer Federico Marchetti said the online retailer is looking at acquisitions to bolster its business, though it isn’t in talks currently to buy Cie. Financiere Richemont SA’s Net-a-Porter.

“There are no talks underway with Richemont,” Marchetti said today in a phone interview. Asked if there had been talks between the companies about Net-a-Porter, he said: “We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t look at certain acquisitions in a selective manner and we will continue to do so.”

Yoox, based in the Italian city of Bologna, has a dedicated team to evaluate investment opportunities that could help maintain the company’s leadership position in luxury e-commerce and create industrial synergies, Marchetti said. Yoox has held talks with Richemont about a merger with Net-a-Porter, though discussions have stalled, Il Sole 24 Ore reported today without saying where it got the information.

Alan Grieve, a spokesman for Geneva-based Richemont, declined to comment.

No transaction would compromise the independence with which Yoox manages the online stores of more than 30 fashion and luxury-goods brands, Marchetti said. The monobrand business, which is growing well, “is our point of strength,” the CEO said. “Yoox would never do something to lose” it.

Break Up

Yoox, which last year set up an e-commerce venture with Gucci-owner Kering SA, also sells third-party products via the yoox.com, thecorner.com and shoescribe.com multibrand websites. Yoox shares, which have more than doubled this year, fell 3.3 percent today in Milan trading.

Richemont, the world’s largest jewelry maker, in May fueled speculation it could break up its fashion and leather-goods unit after Chairman Johann Rupert said the company should have been quicker to cull bad investments and the division’s head left. Richemont has appointed Nomura Holdings Inc. to sell handbag maker Lancel, two people familiar with the situation told Bloomberg last month.

Richemont acquired the two-thirds of Net-a-Porter it didn’t own in 2010 in a deal valuing the retailer at 350 million pounds ($558 million). Net-a-Porter, founded by former fashion journalist Natalie Massenet in 2000, reported a loss of 19 million euros ($25.7 million) in the 12 months through March.