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No Online Sales for Chanel


02 December, 2017

France's Chanel has no immediate plans for online sales of its handbags or specialty clothing for women, a company official says.

Chanel is one of the last businesses in the fashion industry to turn to the internet for selling products. Many of its competitors are experimenting with websites to find buyers.

Chanel already uses its website to sell eyeglasses and beauty products, as well as perfumes such as Chanel No 5.

A model wears a creation for the Chanel Spring/Summer 2018 ready-to-wear fashion collection presented in Paris, Tuesday, Oct., 2017. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A model wears a creation for the Chanel Spring/Summer 2018 ready-to-wear fashion collection presented in Paris, Tuesday, Oct., 2017. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

But the company has no plans to use the site to sell tweed suits for women or quilted leather handbags, with each costing more than $4,300.

The president of fashion at Chanel, Bruno Pavlovsky, spoke about online sales at a conference last month in Paris.

"If you give everything to everyone straight away, I think you lose that exclusivity," he said. "I‘m not saying we won't try it one day, but if we do it will be because we'll really think there's some added value."

At first, manufacturers of high-priced goods were slow to develop websites. Many worried that making their products too widely available would hurt demand.

But many businesses are now active in online sales. LVMH (LVMH.PA), parent company to Louis Vuitton, is working with a former official from Apple, the American technology company. The French company recently launched a site for several fashion brands.

Website sales will make up some 10 percent of all money collected in the luxury goods market this year, according to Bain & Company. The company said it expects those businesses to earn 25 percent of their revenue through web sales.

But Chanel's limited online sales is not hurting the business, Pavlovsky noted. He said the company was reaching a growing number of younger buyers and had waiting lists for best-selling bags.

The company was started by Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel in 1910. Two secretive billionaires, Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, now control the business. The Reuters news agency noted that Chanel does not often release financial results.

Reports registered with the Amsterdam exchange show Chanel's net profit fell nearly 35 percent in 2016. Sales dropped nine percent to $5.7 billion.

Most major competitors have enjoyed an increase in sales in 2017.

Chanel is no stranger to digital marketing. The company has used media like Instagram and Twitter to share images from its famous catwalk shows and collections by designer Karl Lagerfeld.

But buyers want to try on the clothes, Pavlovsky said. He added that the business would look into providing "e-services" for buyers to reserve items or make store appointments online.

"Every time I‘m in China I meet clients who come and say, ‘whatever you do don't do e-commerce. The day you do it for us this won't be exclusive anymore'," Pavlovsky said.

I'm Susan Shand.

Sarah White reported this story for the Reuters news agency. George Grow adapted her report for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

online – adj. connected to or served by a computer or telecommunications system

fashionn. the business of creating and selling clothing

perfume – n. a sweet-smelling substance

quilt n. a bed cover or cloth made from two pieces of material, and filled with cotton or wool

exclusivityn. special rights or services

brandn. a group of goods identified by name as the product

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