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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.

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 — 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. 

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