Vente-Privée: an expensive first year for the United States
Following the announcement that French flash-sales site Vente-Privée has bought the Théâtre de Paris, the company’s CEO Jacques-Antoine Granjon has spoken out on the company’s international development, mainly its joint-venture with American Express in the United States. Though the concept is yet to experience the same success state-side as it has in Europe, the site’s boss considers it a to be ‘good start’.
With over 600,000 members on the American site, Vente-Privée reported a turnover of 25 million dollars for its first financial year. “It is not profitable, but that’s normal,” says Jacques-Antoine Granjon. “In France, it was five years before people were talking about us. Our competitors are investing millions of dollars to drive traffic to their sites, while we are sitting back and letting word of mouth send people over. We don’t want to follow the same route as those who have copied us over here because in five years’ time, they won’t be making money.”
With over 100 employees in the United States, Vente-Privée has its headquarters in Manhattan and a logistic centre in Ohio. “It has been an expensive year in the United States,” explains the CEO. “We are rearranging our team over there to tie in with our future ambitions. It is going to take time – it is not an easy task. But we have had a good start and the potential is there,” he states, underlining the importance of not racing through the process.
Though ambitions may be high for the United States, this is not to the detriment to the company’s activity in Europe, whereVente-Privée is currently present in eight countries. “Today, France generates 80% of our turnover,” says Jacques-Antoine Granjon. “In three years from now, the objective is that Europe generates 50% of revenue.”
The CEO is looking at Germany to support this desire. The boss points out that Germany is an “extremely protectionist” country and that the company still has a long way to go in terms subscribers, but has found that customers are very loyal once they do sign up. Spain could also help drive growth, as the company has managed to find a sizeable audience despite the country being shaken by debt.
In 2012, Vente-Privée reported a turnover of 1.3 billion euros - triple the figure from five years ago - and the site alone represents 2% of e-commerce in France. The site has astonishing statistics too: 25 million unique vistors a day and 80 million per month. “That is 20 times the amount of people that visit the Quatres Temps shopping centre (note: a popular shopping centre in Paris),” says the Vente-Privée CEO.
Though the site has huge ambitions, there is one idea that is of no interest at all: physical stores. “We already have experience with the process of clearing inventory when working for physical stores. We will be the last to want to open up shop,” insists Jacques-Antoine Granjon.
The CEO explains that the site will not give in to the temptation like many e-commerce stores before it. “Eventually, there will be less and less ‘pure-players’ in the market and I think that private sale sites will be the last ones standing. Perhaps we’ll even be the only one. Well, one can hope.”
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