Maybe you’ve never heard of Vente-Privee, but if you’ve ever visited Gilt Groupe, HauteLook, Rue La La, etc., you know what they do. The French company launched a designer flash sales site back in 2001 (that’s six years before Gilt Groupe and HauteLook) and inspired the launch of Gilt. The firm is a huge player in Europe–they currently boast 13 million users and about $1 billion in yearly sales–but they’ve steered clear of the US. Until now.
This morning, American Express announced a joint partnership with Vente-Privee to launch an American site later on this year. (Each company owns 50% of the venture. And this is VP’s first foray into a non-European market.)
What does this deal amount to for other big players in the flash sales space? It depends, but it could mean quite a bit. While Gilt Groupe has incredibly good relationships with their vendors, Vente-Privee is more established, and may be able to offer high-end designers a bigger cut of the sales. Plus, with the backing of American Express, there’s definitely going to be a battle to work with American designers like Tory Burch, Phillip Lim, and DvF, who partner with the credit card company on a regular basis.
On the other hand, Gilt Groupe is moving so far beyond the flash sales model into full-priced clothing and lifestyle products–and is much more concerned right now with gaining reach, not remaining exclusive–that maybe this news is barely on the team’s radar. (Not likely. But maybe.)
We’re attending the official launch of the Amex/Vente-Privee partnership at noon, so we’ll keep you updated.