Is UK online fashion retailer Net-a-Porter about to be bought by Amazon?

 
Emma Haslett
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The online retailer was founded by Natalie Massenet in 2000 (Source: Net-a-Porter.com)

Is Amazon planning to get into high-end fashion retailing? The US tech giant is reportedly in talks to acquire Net-a-Porter, the British online luxury fashion retailer.

It would be a bold move for Amazon, which already has clothing categories on its site - although many of the listings tend to feature the word "polyester".

According to Womenswear Daily, which first reported the news, the deal could be worth as much as €2bn (£1.47bn).

Richemont, the private equity company which bought Net-a-Porter in 2010, has previously denied that the retailer is up for sale. However, rumours have persisted - and as the only one of Richemont's brands that doesn't manufacture goods itself, Net-a-Porter has been seen as an odd fit for the company.

There are also signs Amazon wants to go upmarket. Jeff Bezos, its founder, has extolled the virtue of the luxury industry, pointing out that margins are higher. Meanwhile, in July it announced plans to sponsor the men's collections at New York Fashion Week. It has also unveiled plans to launch a 46,000 sq ft photography studio in London.

CMA wades in

Meanwhile, some of the UK's biggest fashion brands may be about to topple off their vertiginous heels after the Competition and Markets Authority said it was planning to investigate "suspected anti-competitive arrangements" in the industry.

According to the CMA, fashion, clothing and footwear brands could be "inhibiting consumer choice" - although it added that the investigation was "at an early stage and no assumption should be made that there has been an infringement of competition law".

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