Farfetch-Violet Gray partnership reports are premature, sources say

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The luxury marketplace announced in a call with investors in February that it is committed to developing the beauty category in the coming year, although details of what that would look like remain unknown. Now, put in a report WWD speculates that Farfetch may partner – or potentially acquire – Violet Gray, the Los Angeles-based luxury beauty salon co-founded by Cassandra Gray.

Farfetch and Violet Gray have had discussions several times over the years, but Farfetch is nowhere near finalizing its beauty strategy, sources close to both companies told BoF.

While Farfetch’s previous partnership with Britain’s Space NK, launched in 2016 – a Violet Gray competitor with a much wider reach – didn’t last long, Violet sells Grey’s gold standard product offering – it sells the creme de la creme of beauty lines, including Augustinus Bader and Westman Atelier – and a prestigious consumer reputation can be a plus. If it develops beauty itself, it will have to spend time building relationships with beauty brands, just like fashion.

But does a takeover make sense? Violet Gray has already raised significant capital – public records show at least $ 29 million, including a small round of debt financing in April 2020 – but has yet to develop its physical retail network, still a major channel in the beauty category.

Beyond Amazon, there’s no beauty marketplace yet to legitimately challenge Sephora or Ulta, and Farfetch is strategically positioned to develop such a property at the top end of the market.

A Farfetch representative declined to comment on the rumors, and Violet Gray did not immediately respond to a request for comment.