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GrabOne's Owners sell their Fashion Site brandsExclusive

In June 2012 when daily deals were hot, deals sites were looking to grow even faster so they looked around the internet for fast growing segments. One that stood out was online sites selling designer fashion and accessories.

A far cry from low end chinese made goods that deals sites were getting into, these fashion sites sourced top end designer fashion labels. Pair that with steep discounts and the fashion flash sale model was hot.

So at that time, GrabOne's parent company APN negotiated a deal to buy BrandsExclusive, an Aussie fashion flash site that was doing well. The deal cost A$36 million and the plan was to cross market to their existing customer base about BrandsExclusive.

Brands Exclusive has a NZ site where kiwis can access the same deals as all the overseas sites. The site seemed to be doing well for a while. But as with any fast growing business model, once a market is hot, then dozens of competing sites start popping up.

Also, with most US websites now happy to ship worldwide, this increased competition even more. Reports in early 2013 were that brandsExclusive was not growing as APN would like. Fast forward 12 months and BrandsExclusives sales were down. In September 2013 it was announced that APN was looking to sell the site.

In Feb 2014 APN announced that the site had indeed been sold to Aussie Commerce Group. Aussie Commerce run a number of discount sites, notably Cudo which tanked here in NZ, but is still running in Australia.

Interestingly the site was sold for $A2m, and 8% of stock in Aussie Commerce. So they have written down $34m in value since buying the site in 2012. I wonder who got fired for this botched acquisition.

APN executives have said that they are getting back to their core strengths, and to be honest running a warehouse for a fashion website, is far away from the nice model of running a deals site that runs entirely online with no physical shipping involved.

But online fashion sites are not dead, in fast they are a good way to get great deals on top brand names. Whether they are good to own for a large media company is another story. But from a consumer point of view, you can bascially buy on any US site now too, so the need and advantage to buying from a local site is a lot less.

Posted: Tue 01 Apr 2014


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