China's JD.com to invest $397 mln in United Kingdom fashion retailer Farfetch

Hundreds of well-known fashion brands sell their products on Farfetch

Farfetch founder, co-chairman and CEO, José Neves said he was "deeply honoured and excited" to announce the partnership with Liu and JD.

JD.com Inc (JD.O), China's No.2 e-commerce firm, said it would invest $397 million in fashion retailer Farfetch UK Ltd to expand its luxury offerings, amid fierce competition with Alibaba Group (BABA.N) for China's high-end retail market.

The Farfetch deal is in line with JD's push as the online United Kingdom fashion retailer is partnered with roughly 700 global luxury brands and boutiques. The pair have also signed a "strategic partnership" that will help Farfetch crack China. The company's said to be considering a sizeable investment in Indonesian peer Tokopedia, and has begun courting higher-income customers with a "white-glove" premium service on more expensive purchases. The new partnership will see Farfetch be able to make use of JD.com's wide logistics network, alongside online payment technology and social media resources like its partnership with WeChat. "China is the world's second-largest luxury market, and we are delighted to have such a respected partner, known for its strict protection of IP, with whom to address Chinese luxury consumers". The company had raised just over $300 million across six funding rounds prior to this investment.

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In return, JD.com gets an important ally as it focuses on high-end retail to help it differentiate from Alibaba, which despite various anti-counterfeiting efforts is still saddled with a reputation as a haven for knockoffs.

The deal seals an alliance between China's second-largest e-commerce player and the online fashion shop, which is trying to boost its presence in one of the world's fastest growing markets for upscale goods.

JD will become a major shareholder in the firm following the transaction, and its CEO Richard Liu will join Farfetch's board, it said in a statement. "We have always believed that the long-term trend of Chinese e-commerce is towards quality over price and this partnership with Farfetch further extends our lead in the battle for the future of China's upwardly mobile consumers".

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