Temasek takes stake in fashion start-up

Singapore state fund Temasek Holdings is among investors which pumped US$110 million (S$150 million) into London-based start-up venture Farfetch, which sells clothing online for high-end boutiques.

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

This latest investment, first reported in The Business of Fashion, an industry website, brings the total capital raised by Farfetch to some US$304.5 million over about 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.

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

They include 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, 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 latest 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... it's definitely a strategic move.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Temasek takes stake in fashion start-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe