Farfetch Acquires London Retailer Browns as it Works to Reinvent Luxury Shopping

Consider it an investment in finding the best way to blend online and offline for luxury shoppers.
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Eliza Brooke
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Consider it an investment in finding the best way to blend online and offline for luxury shoppers.

Back in March, online marketplace Farfetch raised $86 million from a host of investors like Condé Nast International and DST Global, with the stated intention of expanding its presence worldwide while developing its brick-and-mortar touchpoints through its click-and-collect service. Turns out the e-commerce startup is building out its real world presence in more ways than that. On Tuesday, Farfetch announced that it has acquired the 45-year-old London retailer Browns, a family business that carries brands ranging from up-and-comers (J.W. Anderson) to well-established labels (Saint Laurent, Valentino).

The two have worked together in partnership for a few years now — Browns being one of the boutiques in one can shop on Farfetch.com — and according to a statement from Farfetch, Browns will continue to run "completely independently."

But the retailer will of course be making use of Farfetch's technology; and as you might imagine, Farfetch will benefit from owning a business grounded in brick-and-mortar. It offers the startup an opportunity to tinker around in pursuit of finding the best ways to blend offline and online shopping. As Farfetch CEO José Neves put it in a statement, he does believe that in the future, luxury shopping will be a "seamless merge of a fantastic physical experience with powerful, yet subtle technology." 

To help in this next phase, Farfetch is installing former Net-a-Porter fashion director Holli Rogers as CEO of Browns. The Burstein family, which founded Browns in 1970, will continue to hold seats on its board of directors.