Website Vente Privee sees jump in sales, no IPO

* Vente Privee says no IPO on the cards for now

* 2009 turnover up 33 pct

* Sees 2010 turnover up 25 pct to 850 million euros

* Vente Privee CEO says the business is not for sale

By Astrid Wendlandt

PARIS, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Vente Privee, the French website which sells leftover stock, will make about 1 billion euros in turnover by the end of 2011 but in spite of its stellar growth, it has no plans for an initial public offering, it said.

The retailer, which organises two to six-day online sales of Yves Saint Laurent handbags or Peugeot cars, is one of many e-commerce companies enjoying a boom in spite of the economic downturn thanks to the growing popularity of online shopping.

Vente Privee said on Thursday it expected turnover in 2010 to reach 850 million euros ($1.18 billion), up 25 percent against 2009 sales of 680 million euros.

If Vente Privee meets its target of 1 billion euros in turnover next year, it will become as big as French online retailer CDiscount, which is controlled by Casino CASP.PA.

Chief Executive and founder Jacques-Antoine Granjon said the company was not thinking about floating since it had no debt and 150 million euros in available cash.

“Today, I am not interested (in an IPO),” Granjon told Reuters after a presentation of the company’s results at its spacious headquarters and depot outside Paris in Saint-Denis.

Granjon, who controls 40 percent of the company, said being listed carried more banes than boons and took too much time and energy away from management.

He added that Vente Privee had not been approached by any potential suitor, stressing that “we are not for sale and too expensive anyway”.

The business, which was set up in 2001, was valued at 1 billion euros when U.S. private equity fund Summit Partners took a 20 percent stake in 2001.

Back then, shareholders cut their positions and no cash was injected directly into the company.


Following up on media reports which said Amazon AMZN.O had looked into acquiring Vente Privee, Granjon said there was never any contact between the two companies.

But he added it was normal that Amazon might consider “acquiring a sexy company such as ours”.

Granjon said the crisis had made stocks build up, which indirectly benefited Vente Privee.

But for now, the company wished to focus on growing organically and investing in projects such as an iPhone application for its website and opening new sites throughout Europe.

Vente Privee operates in France, Spain, Germany and Italy and aims to enter new markets after having consolidated existing ones.

It competes with Brands 4 Friends in Germany, Privalia in Spain and many discount sites in Great Britain.

Granjon said Great Britain was his toughest market because of the maturity of online shoppers and the breadth of discounts already on offer.

He said about 65 percent of turnover, all taxes included, which Vente Privee generated, was handed over to the brands while the retailer kept about 35 percent.

The company makes a net profit margin of 6-7 percent of sales, Granjon said.


Vente Privee is trying to develop a website dedicated to luxury brands which in the past have included Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi, Yves Saint Laurent (all part of Gucci Group, owned by PPR PRTP.PA).

Notably, no brands belonging to the LVMH LVMH.PA group have ever done a sale on Vente Privee.

Granjon said he expected some brands such as LVMH’s leather goods maker Louis Vuitton, which never offer discounts, would always refuse to sell stock on his website.

“There is no point calling Yves Carcelle (chief executive of Louis Vuitton.) And it is good if it stays like that,” he said. ($1=.7207 Euro) (Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)