Two years ago, Neiman Marcus took a minority stake in Asian luxury flash sales site Glamour Sales Holdings, and now, the Dallas-based retailer may withdraw its investment. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Glamour Sales will be buying that 44 percent stake back, although Neiman Marcus is remaining cagey on whether that will actually happen.
"Glamour Sales is actively looking for capital investment. We do not have an interest in becoming a majority partner, therefore their search could result in the sale of our minority stake," a rep for Neiman Marcus wrote to us in an email Tuesday.
So, that kind of sounds like a yes, probably.
That $28 million investment in Glamour Sales back in March of 2012 marked Neiman Marcus's first foray into the Chinese market. The department store said then that it would use Glamour Sales as a platform for Chinese e-commerce through which it was aiming to sell "an expertly curated mix of full-price, current-season offerings." But that was exactly the problem: As WSJ points out, Chinese consumers turned out not to be terribly interested in buying full-price merchandise from a flash sales site that otherwise sold designer goods at a discount.
Glamour Sales did, at one point, handle fulfillment of Neiman Marcus's Chinese orders. However, the rep tells us that last year it moved those operations to Dallas, where all other international fulfillment for Neiman Marcus takes place. With a dedicated China team and Chinese language website, the retailer likely has no intention of exiting the country entirely — it just seems that its first plan of attack may have been slightly miscalculated.
Update: Neiman Marcus has confirmed that it has indeed sold back its 44 percent stake, coinciding with Glamour Sales raising another $65 million from other investors.