Breaking: Farfetch have bought London's Browns Boutique
Marrying clicks and bricks
The world of digital continues to dominate as it is revealed that global eCommerce giant Farfetch, have bought the bricks-and-mortar Browns Boutique. The iconic London store has been situated on South Molton Street in Mayfair for 45 years and will now see a series of changes thanks to its new parent: The digital pioneer – Farfetch.
The Burstein family founded and run boutique will now see a keen focus be placed on its online business, and according to a report by WWD will see its "physical store as a lab to experiment with splicing online and offline retail in an increasingly omnichannel world."
José Neves, founder and CEO of Farfetch said: "The vision is to answer the question: 'How will people shop for luxury fashion five or 10 years into the future?' This won't be purely online."
"The answer, we believe, will be a seamless merger of a fantastic physical experience with powerful, yet subtle, technology. Browns is the perfect partner for this evolution," he added, declining to specify the technologies Farfetch plan to implement at Browns.
Neves also confirmed that Farfetch purchased 100 percent of Browns in cash and shares, but did not reveal the terms of the deal.
In 1970 Joan Burstein opened Browns in London with her late husband Sidney, and their son Simon, who until now had acted as CEO. Known in the industry as 'Mrs. B', Burstein become known and respected for launching and nurturing designers including John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Missoni, Prada and Donna Karan in the UK.
"We couldn't think of a better, more forward-thinking partner to take the reins and respond to the challenges of the future," Burstein told WWD, who will now serve as honorary chairman of Browns.
Mrs. B's children, Simon and his sister Caroline who currently acts as the boutique's creative director, will become advisors to the business and have a seat on the board. Caroline will also continue as creative director at the company's separate entities: Browns Bride and Vera Wang at Browns.
Under the new Farfetch ownership, Browns will continue to operate as a seperate entity to its eCommerce parent, with former Net-a-Porter fashion director – Holli Rogers – taking over as CEO. Rogers will be responsible for growing Browns online and offline business.
In 2008, Neves founded Farfetch after a career in bricks-and-mortar retail. The site operates as a virtual shopping mall, it doesn't hold any stock and allows users to browse merchandise and purchase directly from the partner stores it has on its books – including Browns, L'Eclaireur in Paris, Banner and Biffi in Milan, Fivestory in New York, Candy Sister in Tokyo, D'NA in Riyadh, and Le Mill in Mumbai.
The pioneering eCommerce concept was recently valued at $1 billion following an $86 million investment – read the full story here.