Temasek backs London startup Farfetch, an online shopping site for high-end boutiques


SINGAPORE - Singapore state fund Temasek Holdings led investors who pumped in US$110 million in a London-based startup venture Farfetch, which sells clothing for high-end boutiques.

Temasek's partners included China venture firm IDG Capital Partners, existing investor Vitruvian Partners and French investment company Eurazeo.

This latest investment, first reported in the The Business of Fashion, brings the total capital raised by Farfetch to some US$304.5 million in close to six years, and raises its valuation to US$1.5 billion.

Farfetch now ranks alongside money transfer operator TransferWise and music discovery app Shazam as the best-backed tech start-ups in London, said the Financial Times.

Farfetch will use the fresh capital to expand in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for 26 per cent of its sales. China has become its second-largest market two years after it launched there, accounting for 12 per cent of sales.

Founded by former shoe designer Jose Neves in 2008, Farfetch is an e-commerce platform for luxury brands and independent retailers to sell their products globally.

They includes leading labels but many of its 400 boutiques and 1,600 luxury designers are small independent traders, said FT. They sell edgy, hard-to-find clothes and accessories at eye-popping prices, like a US$2,190 embroidered silk top from Rosie Assoulin and US$464 T-shirts by Bella Freudm said Bloomberg News.

Farfetch, unlike most e-commerce platforms, also maintains a physical presence in the form of a London-based boutique, Browns, which serves as a test bed and showcase for the company's technology.

Commenting on its lastest fund-raising, Mr Neves told The Business of Fashion: "If you look at the partners we now welcome on board, like Temasek, which has a huge, huge influence in South-East Asia and investments in all the major Asian internet players, and IDG Capital Partners - same thing - it's definitely a strategic move.

"They know all the players there and it makes things easier for partnerships, for hiring, for insights."

Bloomberg News, citing an unidentified source, said FarFetch may turn profitable in 2017, allowing it to consider an initial public offering, probably in New York.