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Tue 8 Nov 2016 10:11 AM

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Qatar-backed retailer Vente-privée sees 2016 sales topping $3 billion

Europe's top online discount retailer sees like-for-like sales growing 20% this year

Qatar-backed retailer Vente-privée sees 2016 sales topping $3 billion

French online retailer Vente-privée expects 2016 sales to reach about 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion), up from 2 billion in 2015, helped by acquisitions and a revamp of top management after pulling out of the United States, according to its founder.

Vente-privée, the No. 1 online discount retailer in Europe by sales, competes with Amazon, Ebay and Showroom Privé . It sells online clothes, exotic trips, wines, food, watches and jewellery at 50-70 percent discounts.

In Europe, the site, which is part funded by Qatar Holding, has seen its model copied by the likes of Germany's Brands4Friends and Britain's Brand Alley.

Vente-privée founder and chairman Jacques-Antoine Granjon said the company was aiming for like-for-like sales growth of 20 percent this year, after 13 percent in 2015, and expected a double-digit rise again in 2017.

Online fashion discounters might be more crisis-resistant than full-price retailers, but Granjon said the current downturn in the luxury goods sector did not make business easier.

"When there is a downturn, brands are actually even more concerned about their image so it is not always that easy to get stock from them," Granjon told Reuters in an interview at the Vogue Fashion Festival in Paris.

Granjon said the site worked with 6,000 brands, including a few luxury ones such as Richemont's Montblanc and LVMH's Chaumet. On average, 50 percent of customers who bought an item from a brand visited its shop a month later.

In the past year, Vente-privée has bought Vente-exclusive, a leader in Benelux, Designers & Friends in Denmark, Switzerland's e-boutic.ch and Privalia, which is active in Spain, Italy, Brazil and Mexico.

Granjon said the company remained on the lookout for possible acquisitions, on which it could spend several hundred million euros. This month it bought zlotewyprzedaze.pl in Poland, making it the 14th country in which it operates.

"Several levers of growth have been put in place and we will continue to see their impact next year," Granjon said.

Vente-privée pulled out of the United States two years ago after a partnership with American Express did not bring expected results.

Granjon said the firm was not eyeing Britain because both that country and the United States had well developed "outlet" cultures where brands already sell discounted stock, making it hard for online discounters to break into those markets.

Granjon said the US pull-back helped trigger top management change and make expansion in Europe a priority. A year ago, the firm hired former Calyon CIB M&A banker Charles-Hubert de Chaudenay as its new CEO.

Granjon reiterated he was not interested in floating the company for now. Among Vente-privée's investors are Qatar Holding, which is financed by the Qatar sovereign wealth fund, and investment firm Summit Partners.

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