Is Farfetch the latest casualty of Chinese and American consumer pullback?

    As financial woes deepen, Farfetch grapples with delisting talks and diminished market confidence.
    Farfetch listed on the New York Stock Exchange on September 21, 2018. Photo: Shutterstock
      Published   in Finance

    What happened

    Luxury e-commerce firm Farfetch is said to be contemplating delisting from the New York Stock Exchange and going private, amid rumors of financial difficulty and a “troubled” IPO.

    José Neves, CEO and founder of London-headquartered Farfetch, is said to be in discussions about taking his multi-brand e-tailer private with its shareholders, which include Chinese tech giant Alibaba and Swiss luxury conglomerate Richemont, according to reports.

    Eyebrows were raised last month, when Farfetch delayed releasing its Q3 2023 financial results.

    “The company expects to provide a market update in due course. The company will not be providing any forecasts or guidance at this time, and any prior forecasts or guidance should no longer be relied upon,” the e-commerce platform stated then, according to Drapers.

    Farfetch's revenue In Q2 2023 fell short of expectations. Photo: Shutterstock
    Farfetch's revenue In Q2 2023 fell short of expectations. Photo: Shutterstock

    The Jing Take

    : Signs of trouble have been on the horizon for some time at Farfetch, but never so apparent until recent weeks.

    The e-tailer had previously entertained notions of a now-stalled deal to purchase a 47.5% stake in competitor Yoox Net-A-Porter. “Loss-making Farfetch looks ill-equipped to complete the transaction with Richemont. Shares in the loss-making company are down more than 70%,” analysts said in late November.

    In Q2 2023, Farfetch fell short of projected revenue, as retailers reduced orders for the upcoming fall and winter seasons owing to excess inventories — with analysts deeming its second-quarter earnings report as "very disappointing," according to Reuters.

    "We have seen a less buoyant luxury customer in the US. In Mainland China ... The reality is the recovery has not been as robust as we had expected when we reported our Q1 results,” Neves, the Farfetch CEO, stated in the aforementioned report.

    With the post-Covid reopening of China and the rest of the world over the last year and a half, forecasts were initially rosy, and expectations high for many retailers including Farfetch. But in recent months, that optimism has dwindled.

    With American consumers spending less on luxury over the past year, many brands have cast their sights on China, with high hopes that Chinese consumers would offset some of the decline in North America and Europe.

    However, this has not proven to be the case for e-tailers such as Farfetch, as China continues to navigate what experts call “a crisis of consumer confidence.”

    Meanwhile, troubled e-commerce firm Farfetch recently estimated that its overall gross merchandise value (GMV) would reach approximately 4.4 billion in 2023. This estimate was a downgrade from an earlier projected figure of 4.9 billion, and whether Farfetch will reach its latest anticipated GMV has yet to be seen, but the road ahead for the e-commerce platform looks uncertain, if not rocky.

    Amid a difficult global retail landscape, Farfetch’s revenue dropped 1.3% YoY to 527 million in 2Q 2023. The e-tailer’s gross profit decreased 10% YoY to 242 million for the quarter, resulting in a gross profit margin of 42.5%, down from 46.2% the previous year, according to reports.

    The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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