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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Graydon Carter Says, ‘There Is More Good Journalism Being Produced Now Than There Was 25 Years Ago’

Graydon Carter Says, ‘There Is More Good Journalism Being Produced Now Than There Was 25 Years Ago’

June 12, 2020
LONDON, United Kingdom —  “Magazines bring the world to you more than newspapers do and more than books do,” Graydon Carter, former editor of Vanity Fairand creator of email newsletter Air Mail, told BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed in the latest episode of the BoF Podcast. “They bring the cultural nuances of what’s going on now to your door. They [tell] you about a world outside of the small town that you’re living in.”Carter’s journalism career spans over four decades, during which he was a staff writer at Time and Life, co-founded Spy magazine in 1986 and served as the editor of The New York Observer. His “third act,” the digital weekly newsletter Air Mail, employs a team of remotely working individuals from across the globe.Carter shared his thoughts on the state of the publishing industry in this time of upheaval.
 
 
  • An upended global economy is not uncharted territory for magazines. During the Great Recession, publications were hit hard as brands cut their advertising budgets to retain cash, Carter said. More than a decade later, magazines are faced with these same challenges, and for Carter, although there remains “a certain romance for magazines” the print industry “is going to have its issues and I think the strong magazines will survive and thrive and the weak ones will go away. That is a natural process in any industry.” The winners that emerge from this crisis will be the publications that form a connection with their readers. “You have to be the first or second favourite magazine of your reader… if you’re the fifth favourite magazine of a reader, they could probably do without you,” he said.
  • During his time running Vanity Fair, Carter spearheaded several newsmaking issues, including the 2015 “Call Me Caitlyn” cover, revealing Caitlyn Jenner for the first time as a woman and the “Africa Issue” that was designed to amplify the region and came with 20 special covers fronted by the likes of Muhammad Ali, Dr Maya Angelou and Barack Obama. However, his leadership was not without controversy. In a recent Netflix documentary, “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” allegations resurfaced that Carter removed information about the sexual abuse of Annie and Maria Farmer from an article about the disgraced billionaire written by Vicky Ward in 2003. In response to the claims, Carter said: “The legal and fact-checking elements of Vanity Fair, which was quite extensive,... is your line of defence and my head of fact-checking, my legal review editor and the lawyer for the company said we simply do not have what we needed to print this and it came in late,” he said. “In this case, they said we did not have the information we needed to publish that little bit of information in the story... I feel great pain and sorrow for the women he took advantage of, it’s an appalling situation.”
  • As the publishing industry pivots to adapt to a new normal, relying on digital tools like Zoom, cutting back the number of issues and reassessing the diversity of their organisations, Carter believes there are opportunities to be capitalised on. “I think there is more good journalism being produced now than there was 25 years ago… The fact is, now… you can start your own thing, you can do it on your kitchen table.” In a sea of start-ups it can be difficult to stand out, but “it’s just about being good at doing something that somebody else doesn’t do… You can make a name doing anything as long as it’s done well.”

 

Related Articles: 
Graydon Carter to Step Down as Vanity Fair Editor After 25 Years
Fashion Magazines Hit as Luxury Ad Spend Dwindles
For Fashion Magazines, It's Crunch Time

 

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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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Millard Drexler on Why ‘Growth Is the Enemy

Millard Drexler on Why ‘Growth Is the Enemy

May 15, 2020
The New York-based “merchant prince,” best known for his time at J. Crew and Gap, is now watching the American retail landscape crumble as brands and retailers struggle under store shutdowns and debt restructuring. He did offer some advice, and warnings, on the state of American shopping, and what it might look like after the pandemic.
  • “If you’re not a micromanager, you’re not doing your job well,” said Drexler. With too much assortment, and too much retail space, brands need to determine what’s necessary and get creative with their offerings. This same practice should also be applied to wholesale accounts. “Own the brand, don’t let someone else put it on sale, and you’re safe,” he said.
  • Rethink what growth means for your brand. “Growth is the enemy,” said Drexler, looking to the rise of VC-backed brands that have struggled to successfully scale and break even. Now is not the time to pursue top-line growth at the cost of profit margins. “That’s what investors want, and they’ll do dumb things to get there,” said Drexler. “More is not better, the new big is small in my mind.”
  • The American department store’s make or break. “It’s pretty much near the end,” said Drexler. There’s no reason for them, he argued, unless the assortment and store curation are unique and compelling: “I’m not impressed [and] I haven't been for years with the choices out there.”

 

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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: Imran Amed on Finding Opportunity in a Crisis

Special Edition: Imran Amed on Finding Opportunity in a Crisis

April 29, 2020

BoF’s Founder and Editor in Chief joins educator and activist Sinéad Burke to discuss how BoF is forging ahead during the Covid-19 crisis in a live event hosted by Istituto Marangoni.

 

 

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Special Edition: Silvia Venturini Fendi Will Surprise You

Special Edition: Silvia Venturini Fendi Will Surprise You

April 24, 2020

In the latest special edition of the BoF Podcast, Fendi Creative Director Silvia Venturini Fendi talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about everything from the future of smart clothing to the end of the fashion show as we know it.

 

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Luis Venegas on Print Media in an Age of Uncertainty | Inside Fashion

Luis Venegas on Print Media in an Age of Uncertainty | Inside Fashion

April 17, 2020

In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, Madrid-based publisher Luis Venegas talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about the fate — and resilience — of print magazines.

 

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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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