No Farfetch profits yet, but sales leap ahead, Off-White sales soar on Marketplace
Now that Farfetch is a listed company, it's under a lot more scrutiny than it used to be and the one thing people are watching for is any sign that it will soon become profitable. The company released its Q4 and full-year results on Thursday and no sign is being seen just yet — in fact, its losses have widened as the company continues to invest heavily in revenue growth and its overall reach.
But the online luxury retailer and brand owner doesn't seem to mind and is brimming with confidence as it’s continuing to see fast growth based on all other metrics. Its 2019 revenue exceeded $1bn and grew 69% year-on-year, while its gross merchandise value (GMV) was over $2bn, a 52% rise.
In Q4, its Digital Platform GMV grew 36% and was up 37% on a constant currency basis. And its $102m Brand Platform GMV was driven by “strong demand across the New Gurads portfolio”.
And while it's not yet profitable, it saw a sequential improvement in its gross profit margin during the final quarter of the year.
Founder and CEO José Neves, said of all this: “2019 was a landmark year for Farfetch as we grew our digital platform almost twice as fast as the online luxury industry, and significantly improved our adjusted EBITDA margins as we marched towards profitability. With more than 2m active customers and record GMV, Farfetch is firmly established as the largest global online destination for in-season luxury. At the same time, with over 500 direct brand partners on the Farfetch Marketplace and more than 20 enterprise clients for Farfetch Platform Solutions, we are the clear digital partner of choice for luxury brands.”
And he continues to see the company as uniquely well placed to capitalise on the opportunities that are out there, saying it can “capture the lion’s share of the $100bn incremental opportunity in online luxury,” and that “we have continued to attract and retain an incredibly valuable and loyal luxury consumer base and captured market share.”
NEW GUARDS AND CORONAVIRUS
The company is a very different one from what it was when it reported its full-year results 12 months ago. Its acquisition of New Guards has transformed it from mainly an online retailer and technology company, into one that's also a significant brand owner. And it seems very happy with that change.
“I am extremely pleased with New Guards’ contribution towards our business, which, just six months from the acquisition, is delivering increased traffic to the Marketplace, enhancing our brand position and is accretive to our financials,” Neves added. And he was also extremely upbeat about some other developments that happened last year, saying that “on the enterprise side of our business, I am ecstatic to have launched Harrods' global e-commerce presence on our platform.”
Of course, given that this is a business that operates in the luxury sector and is heavily dependent on the global luxury shopper, there are some issues that it can't ignore at the moment, the coronavirus being the main one.
However, Neves said he’s “pleased to see that from a trading perspective, there has not been a material impact to the business. I believe our distributed platform model, which affords us with more than $3bn of third-party inventory across more than 50 countries, which we are able to ship to customers in 190 countries, makes the Farfetch model particularly resilient to the situation, at least in its current shape. However, circumstances regarding the novel coronavirus situation remain uncertain, and as such we are closely monitoring the situation as it evolves.”
Meanwhile, as far as the results were concerned, the company’s CFO, Elliot Jordan said that Q4 was a record-setting one in which it beat its own expectations of GMV growth, order contribution margin and adjusted EBITDA. And looking towards 2020, it’s “well positioned to continue to gain market share, forecasting strong GMV growth, with substantial adjusted EBITDA improvement targeted for the year ahead as we aim to balance our growth initiatives with continued investments in the business in driving towards profitability in 2021.” So no profits this year then.
The company said that its GMV reached $2.1bn in 2019, up from $1.4bn a year earlier, while revenue was $1.02bn, up from $602m. The adjusted EBITDA loss was $121m, wider than 2018’s $96m and the loss after tax was $373m, bigger than the $155m of 2018. Its Brand Platform contributed $164m in revenue this time, with no comparison to 2018 as it didn't own it at the time.
In Q4, GMV was up to $739m from $466m while revenue reached $382m from $195m. Adjusted EBITDA was a loss of almost $18m, worse than the $14.5m loss of a year earlier, and the loss after tax widened to $110m from just under $10m. Importantly though, while the gross profit margin was down year-on-year in Q4 at 46.1%, it was also higher than the year as a whole when it had been 45%. And average order value was $636 during the final quarter compared to $608 across the year. Its Brand Platform revenue was $101.5m during the quarter.
The company highlighted the fact that its largest ever Marketplace product selection was on offer in Q4 with almost 370,000 SKUs, seven times higher than its nearest competitor, across more than 3,400 brands. These were supplied by more than 1,200 sellers, including over 500 direct brand partners. It also maintained 100% three-year retention of its top 100 direct brand partners and top 100 boutique partners. And interestingly it completed its first $1m customer transaction on the Marketplace in a single sale of fine jewellery and watches via Fashion Concierge, its conversational commerce solution.
Looking at the numbers behind the New Guards brands, the operation generated $75m Brand Platform gross profit in its first five months after its August 2019 acquisition. And in Q4, Off-White sales on the Farfetch Marketplace increased more than 80% year-on-year.
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