Farfetch Buys China Agency to Bring Brands to WeChat

(Bloomberg) -- Online fashion retailer Farfetch U.K. Ltd is buying a Chinese digital marketing agency to help sell luxury brands to consumers on Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat messaging service.

Farfetch is acquiring CuriosityChina and will integrate it into its services division, providing the likes of high-end shoe designer Manolo Blahnik with packages of digital solutions. It’s been trying to boost its presence in China and made a significant step in that direction last year when Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com bought a stake.

“We’ve been talking to luxury brands for years and every meeting we have they ask about China,” Giorgio Belloli, Farfetch’s chief commercial and sustainability officer, said in an interview. “Practically everything in China happens on WeChat.”

Following the deal, boutiques using Farfetch’s platform will be able to create stores on WeChat. Judy Liu, a co-Founder of CuriosityChina, will become managing director in China. Farfetch also sells directly to consumers on its online shop and its own WeChat store. It declined to provide financial details for this deal.

With China being one of the world’s fastest growing markets for upscale goods, makers of luxury goods and beauty products are learning to tailor to the digitally savvy Chinese. There are more than 1 billion active users of WeChat.

Prada SpA late last year introduced its first e-commerce platform in China. Burberry Group Plc has also said it has seen its sales boosted by exposure on WeChat.

“Consumers aren’t downloading 20 apps for 20 brands -- they’re downloading a single marketplace app and that’s where business is going on mobile,” Belloli said. “Beyond China, we see this marketplace model proving successful globally.”

Created as an e-commerce portal for luxury boutiques, Farfetch has positioned itself between the technology and fashion industries, where competitor Yoox Net-A-Porter Group SpA has traditionally been a leader.

While offering logistics and financing services to smaller retailers, Farfetch has also been using warehouses in the U.K. and Portugal. The London-based company has increased the boutiques it partners with to over 900, almost doubling in a year.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.