Tom and Ruth Chapman, the founders of the UK’s premier luxury multichannel fashion retailer have handed the reins of the business they founded 27 years ago to Ulric Jerome, its 37-year-old chief operating officer.
Tom Chapman, member of The Industry and former speaker, and his wife Ruth have stepped back to take up the position of joint chairmen in a move that suggests a paving of the way for an IPO within four to five years, according to a report in The Telegraph.
Matches was founded as a boutique in Wimbledon Village in the late 1980s and quickly gained a reputation in the luxury market becoming one of the first retailers in the UK to stock Prada. Further stores followed in Richmond, Notting Hill and Marylebone and the Chapmans also became the UK retail partners for superbrands Max Mara and Diane von Furstenberg for whom it operates stores in Wimbledon, Richmond, Notting Hill and Mayfair.
The company launched its online store in 2006 and etail now represents 85% of the company’s turnover with 70% of its sales coming from international customers. Jerome told The Telegraph it was his ambition to establish Matchesfashion.com as the world’s foremost online luxury retailer and believes its fully optimised mobile site could be key to its success. “Some of the companies out there have had their platforms for seven or eight years,” he told The Telegraph.
The Chapmans are believed to own 70% of the shares in Matchesfashion.com with most of the rest held by Scottish Equity Partners and Highland who invested in the business in 2012. Tom Chapman had previously denied that the company was looking to float in the immediate future but says an IPO could be an option in four to five years. He and Ruth have no desire to run a publicly listed business hence their decision to step back from the CEO role, he says.
In other news online retail news, the merger of Net-a-Porter and Yoox is being investigated by The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to establish if the joining of the two brands represents a significant lessening in competition within the market. The CMA will announce whether it intends to take the investigation further in early September, though industry watchers believe it to be purely a formality since the merger has already been approved by antitrust authorities in the US, Austria and Germany.