The Business of Fashion Podcast
Farfetch’s José Neves Says Profitability Is Still Possible in 2021

Farfetch’s José Neves Says Profitability Is Still Possible in 2021

July 9, 2020

LONDON, United Kingdom —For Farfetch Founder and Chief Executive José Neves, the last six months have not only been about protecting his own business from the fallout of Covid-19, but also supporting the hundreds of boutiques around the world — from China, Japan and Korea to the Middle East and Europe — that sell their goods online through the luxury marketplace.

“We've been able to support the boutiques and the brands on the platform at crucial time where online is, for many, the main channel and for some... the only channel,” Neves told BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast.

But as Neves explained, more challenges lie ahead for Farfetch and the global fashion industry at large.

  • Neves described the platform’s performance as “very solid,” and expects to see an acceleration in its second quarter, with year over year growth of 25-30%. Part of this success can be attributed to the business shifting its focus to markets where consumer sentiment has started to recover, according to Neves.
  • But Farfetch is still losing money, and investors and market analysts have questioned the company's recent acquisition of New Guards Group (NGG). The acquisition may have bolstered profitability, but it took the business in an unexpected direction: actually owning the brands it sells on its platform. But Neves said he remains “confident” that Farfetch will achieve profitability by 2021 — a goal it outlined last year, and that the NGG business is a brand platform in its own right.
  • The luxury industry has been bracing for what has been called “the mother of all sales,” as retailers are forced to drastically discount their surplus of spring merchandise. Some observers have pointed to Farfetch as a regular culprit with respect to the industry's discounting addiction even before the Covid-19 pandemic. Neves says the discounting decisions are made by the brands and the retailers themselves, and that Farfetch is simply the platform they use to go to the market, but acknowledges that deep discounting is a systemic industry problem.
  • Neves believes the fashion industry will finally reckon with its wasteful and unsustainable business practices — and partially because it can also reduce costs. “I do think the industry had an oversupply problem, which is an environmental problem as well," he said. “Platforms have a responsibility to… incentivise customers to shop consciously. By doing that you create an incentive for brands to be more conscious or to be totally ethical and sustainable if they can.”

 

Related Articles:

A Cloudy Picture at Farfetch

Farfetch Signals Growing Ambitions in Resale

Why Farfetch's Free-Spending Ways Have Some Investors Concerned

 

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Scott Galloway on Breaking Up Big Luxury | Inside Fashion

Scott Galloway on Breaking Up Big Luxury | Inside Fashion

May 29, 2020

The bestselling author and business professor offers his insight into the challenging market and M&A landscape that industry players of all sizes have to navigate.

Scott Galloway is no stranger to expressing views as provocative as they are incisive. The author, business school professor and serial entrepreneur has a lot to say about the state of the market in the era of Covid-19, but his observations and predictions are also, crucially, grounded in wider social, political and economic arguments — whether that’s the now-untenable position of American exceptionalism, the burden of student debt or the failings of intergenerational wealth distribution. Speaking in conversation with Imran Amed, Galloway shares his thoughts on the state of the luxury sector, importance of e-commerce and the indomitable power of Amazon, a company he describes as “firing on all 12,000 cylinders” yet still can’t crack the fashion market. Here are some of the key takeaways:
 
  • “The class of IPOs that will come to the markets in the next 3-6 months will boom,” said Galloway. “I think the markets are going to accelerate but people conflate the markets with the economic health of america. The markets are nothing more than an indication of how the top decile of Europe and America are doing.” 
  • Amazon’s tricky relationship with fashion and luxury is hard to reconcile. “Amazon partners with an industry the way a virus partners with a host,” he said, which explains why luxury brands have traditionally kept the e-commerce giant at arm’s length. Even with the remarkable acceleration of e-commerce in the past eight weeks, however, Amazon’s algorithmically driven retail model does not allow for the forward-looking trend cycle on which the fashion industry operates.
  • Luxury is a relatively well-positioned industry. “The majority of sectors in the world would pray for luxury’s problems right now,” he said, but much like big tech companies, conglomerates in the luxury space create “an unhealthy environment where too few players are allowed to [accrue] too much power... if you wanted to oxygenate the economy around luxury you would go ahead and break them up.”
 
 
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Jochen Zeitz on the Power of Fashion to Drive Sustainable Change

Jochen Zeitz on the Power of Fashion to Drive Sustainable Change

May 21, 2020

The former CEO of Puma has been one of the fashion industry’s leading sustainability advocates. As part of our special edition on building a responsible fashion business, Zeitz talks to BoF CEO Imran Amed about finding opportunities in crisis.

  • The former CEO of Puma has spent his career advocating, and sometimes agitating, for change to more responsible business practices. As he steps into a new role at the head of Harley-Davidson, he offers advice about finding opportunities in crisis.
  • “Iconic brands have a tremendous opportunity to contribute to a change in consumer behaviour as a whole,” Zeitz said, mounting a defense of consumer culture when managed responsibly. “Growing while reducing has to be the parameter of the future. We can grow, but we have to reduce our footprint over-proportionately to the impact we are having through our growth.”
  • The current crisis in particular could prove an important catalyst to drive change towards better ways of doing business. “Now you can make the business case for the planet and you can say what we’re experiencing now with the virus is just a fast way of experiencing climate change that will happen over decades,” Zeitz said. “This virus is testament for a needed fast change in order to deal with a much bigger crisis that will be affecting all our lives around the world in 20, 30 years to come.”
  • Companies that fail to move may well get left behind. “I look at every crisis as an opportunity… to look at your business and how you operate and say what can we really essentially change to adjust ourselves to the new normal,” Zeitz said. “If businesses don’t ask themselves that question, you will be part of history, rather than the future.”

 

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Marc Jacobs Says, ‘I Still Have Stories to Tell’

Marc Jacobs Says, ‘I Still Have Stories to Tell’

May 18, 2020

As American fashion changes rapidly in real-time, Jacobs shared his thoughts on the state of an industry in flux.

  • Jacobs revisited his last fashion show at the Park Avenue Armory. “I would be very happy if that were my last show,” he said. New York’s role in global fashion is waning, and the future of live fashion shows in the coming months and years remains uncertain. “We don’t know if there will be much of a fashion industry in New York,” said Jacobs. “Will the people that have the skill still be around?”
  • Furthermore, the waste within the industry, and the flawed system of scheduling and orders has put more of an impetus on designers to slow down. “The idea of being forced to create something and tell a story constantly when it has no soul feels so vacant,” said Jacobs, pointing also to the wasted fabrics and unused products that end up in landfills. “The urge to make things and create things hasn’t gone away… I still have stories to tell,” he added. Maybe how that happens will change.
  • Digital collections and online shopping aren’t adequate substitutes. “Ordering online in a pair of grubby sweats is not my idea of living life,” said Jacobs, comparing the experience to looking at art online. “I don’t look at a Rothko online and cry.”

 

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Special Edition: Rafat Ali on the Month the World Stopped Travelling

Special Edition: Rafat Ali on the Month the World Stopped Travelling

May 1, 2020

In the latest special edition of the BoF Podcast, Rafat Ali, founder and CEO of the B2B travel news site Skift, talks to BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed about the tourism standstill following the outbreak of Covid-19 and its impact on travel retail.

 

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Special Edition: Charles Jeffrey on What It’s Like to Be a Rising Designer in the Midst of a Pandemic

Special Edition: Charles Jeffrey on What It’s Like to Be a Rising Designer in the Midst of a Pandemic

April 6, 2020

In the latest special edition of the BoF Podcast, designer Charles Jeffrey talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about self-reflection during the coronavirus crisis, and the evolution of his brand, Loverboy.

 

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Special Edition: Li Edelkoort Says the Coronavirus Is a Representation of our Conscience

Special Edition: Li Edelkoort Says the Coronavirus Is a Representation of our Conscience

March 27, 2020

In the latest special edition of the BoF Podcast, the Dutch trend forecaster says that the coronavirus pandemic is bringing to light what is wrong with society, teaching us to slow down and to change our ways.

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Special Edition: Luca Solca on ‘The Worst Year in the History of Modern Luxury’

Special Edition: Luca Solca on ‘The Worst Year in the History of Modern Luxury’

March 19, 2020

BoF’s Imran Amed and the Bernstein analyst discuss what the sector should expect as coronavirus threatens sales and supply chains.

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Special Edition: Retail Futurist Doug Stephens on How Coronavirus Will Shift Consumer Behaviour

Special Edition: Retail Futurist Doug Stephens on How Coronavirus Will Shift Consumer Behaviour

March 13, 2020

As the pandemic jolts global markets and consumption habits, Imran Amed and Doug Stephens discuss the mindset fashion companies should adopt to stay above water.

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The Rise of The Resale Economy | BoF VOICES

The Rise of The Resale Economy | BoF VOICES

February 14, 2020

Vestiaire Collective’s Max Bittner and Depop’s Maria Raga discussed the opportunities and growing pains of the burgeoning resale market at VOICES 2019.

To watch this talk at VOICES 2019 on our YouTube channel click here.

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