What Happened: After recently becoming the majority stakeholder in the 9-year-old Parisian designer brand AMI, Sequoia Capital China has plans to extend the company’s digital reach worldwide.
This is the first international acquisition for the Chinese arm of this renowned venture capital firm that invested in Google and Apple early on. Sequoia Capital China hopes to use its vast experience in tech-enabled consumer markets and global innovation resources to help AMI reach a new generation of consumers, upgrade its digital channels, and deepen its long-term development, according to a company statement.
AMI’s founder, Alexandre Mattiussi, will continue to lead the brand in his dual president/creative director role. Likewise, the brand’s CEO, Nicolas Santi-Weil, will remain in charge of the overall business.
“Alexandre and I have been convinced by their determination to back us as entrepreneurs while understanding and respecting the core values that define us,” said Santi-Weil in the statement.
Jing Take: Coming after Shandong Ruyi and Fosun’s buying sprees of struggling fashion labels, this acquisition shows that Chinese VCs intend to take advantage of the difficult retail environment during COVID-19. And the fact that they don’t need to be told about the importance of Chinese consumers and digital tools only works in their favor.
AMI’s e-commerce presence might be considered acceptable in other countries, but it falls way short of its contemporaries in China. If a customer wants to order from official channels within the border, he/she would have to pay a 200 yuan ($31) delivery fee, and in case of any problems, they would have to contact a French email address or a UK phone number. In a country where consumers expect to pay via Tmall or a WeChat Mini Program Store with one click, that simply doesn’t work. But Sequoia Capital China’s backing should be able to help.
Although it only entered China in 2018, AMI is a nice, high-end addition to Sequoia Capital China’s fashion portfolio, which also includes Chinese fast fashion brands Shein and Urban Revivo. But one should also look beyond fashion to its greater portfolio. When Alibaba, JD.com, Kuaishou, Bytedance, and Poizon are in the same investor network, anything seems possible.
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.