Stitch Fix files IPO

Online styling and clothing subscription service Stitch Fix has filed for an initial public offering, revealing that the six-year-old startup's annual sales have reached nearly $1 billion.

The service, founded by entrepreneur Katrina Lake in 2011, revealed healthy annual sales of $977.1 million in the fiscal year ended July 29, up from $730 million in 2016, and from $73 million in 2014. Still, growth is down from 113% in 2015 to 34% over the last fiscal year, accompanied by a loss of $594,000.

In a tough environment for traditional fashion retailers, the company will be banking on the value of its data collection method for success. Similar to a subscription-box model, the San Francisco-based site offers a personalised styling service whereby customers receive a curated selection of five items which they can choose to keep or return and receive a reimbursement for, minus the $20 shipping fee. Recommendations are based on a series of tech algorithms and the suggestions of a remote stylist, including the customer’s previous preferences; popular items with similar customer profiles; budget and size. The business model has been a winner amongst its time-poor, style-conscious demographic, recording 2.2 million active users with a repeat order rate of 86%.

Although the start-up previously secured comparatively low venture financing of $42.5 million, Stitch Fix has since managed to distinguish itself from other e-commerce start-ups in both its sizeable profits and its trajectory. Unlike Stitch Fix, similar fashion enterprises such as Trunk Club have been snapped up by larger groups, the latter acquired by Nordstrom for $350 million in 2014.

Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake - Photo: Stitch Fix

Competition going forward will be fierce:  Stitch Fix will be up against Amazon’s recently announced Prime Wardrobe service. All eyes will be on the fashion start-up’s success in the context of retail headwinds and strong e-commerce competition, and the possibility of a successful public flotation seeing knock-on positive effects on investor appetites for similar e-commerce stocks.

Stitch Fix said that it has applied for a Nasdaq listing under the ticker SFIX, pegging $100 million as a preliminary amount that it will hope to raise through the IPO. As a typical placeholder figure, the amount may be replaced in later filings.

Underwriting the offer are Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC; Barclays; Piper Jaffray; J.P Morgan; RBC Capital  Markets and William Blair.

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