A Shoemaker Turns Billionaire With Luxury Goods IPO

(Bloomberg) -- The founder of online luxury goods hub Farfetch Ltd. has bagged a billion-dollar fortune.

Shares of the London-based company closed at $28.45 on Friday after the firm’s initial public offering in New York the previous day. Jose Neves, 44, owns 14.8 percent of Farfetch, according to a prospectus, valuing his stake at as much as $1.2 billion.

Farfetch raised $885 million in Thursday’s IPO, selling shares above the company’s marketed range of $17 to $19 each.

Farfetch’s website helps global, deep-pocketed shoppers get their hands on high-end goods such as an $8,287 leopard-print coat or $980 sneakers. The company also offers services that help sellers create content for online boutiques, manage product returns and analyze consumer data to determine pricing and inventory.

In February, Neves told Bloomberg TV that Farfetch didn’t have any IPO plans. Seven months later, the company registered with U.S. regulators for the public sale of its Class A shares.

Fashion Billionaires

Neves joins France’s Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, and Spain’s Zara founder Amancio Ortega as self-made fashion industry billionaires.

Like its Milan-based rival Yoox Net-A-Porter Group SpA, Farfetch has helped to shake up luxury fashion through focusing on e-commerce in an industry previously dominated by retailers with brick-and-mortar stores. This year, Swiss luxury goods company Richemont acquired YNAP for $3.3 billion.

A Portuguese native, Neves set up Farfetch in 2007. His interest in fashion and computer software stems from the family’s shoemaking past and his receiving a computer for Christmas when he was 8 years old, Neves said in a letter included in the prospectus. Before creating Farfetch, he set up sneaker brand Swear, which re-launched last year.

“The idea of an unrivaled, inclusive, inspiring destination where the whole world of fashion would meet – creators, curators and consumers, all united for the love of fashion – was the vision that is at the heart of Farfetch today,” Neves said in the letter. “This 10-year journey, which started in the middle of a global financial crisis, was far from easy!”

Neves owns all of Farfetch’s Class B stock through an Isle of Man holding company. He didn’t sell any shares in the IPO. His stake is convertible to Class A shares, according to the prospectus.

A spokesman for Neves declined to comment.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.