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Business News

Fashion website founder could net £50m windfall

The founder of the Net-a-Porter website looks set to reap an estimated £50 million windfall today after agreeing to sell her stake in the business to the owner of the Cartier and Montblanc brands.

Natalie Massenet, a former fashion journalist who set up the e-tailer in June 2000, will remain as executive chairman after the deal with Richemont.

The Geneva-based luxury goods retailer owns 33 per cent of the business and is making an offer for the remainder of the shares in a deal valuing Net-a-Porter at around £350 million.

Net, which generated sales of £120 million in the year to January, employs nearly 600 people in London and New York. Presented in the style of a fashion magazine, the website features collections from some of the world's most coveted designers, including Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs.

Ms Massenet, who has an estimated 18 per cent stake in the website, is reportedly reinvesting around £15 million of the sale proceeds back into the business.

She remains "completely committed" to the venture and said that plans for its development would be announced later this year. In particular, Richemont is likely to help the firm pursue growth opportunities in South East Asia.

Net-a-Porter, which attracts more than three million visitors a month, will operate as an independent entity alongside Richemont's other luxury goods businesses.

Ms Massenet said: "Richemont has completely embraced our vision and strategy since they came on board as a shareholder and together we are going to continue to build the 21st century model for luxury fashion retailing."