It seems like handing over the reins of your fashion business is very on trend. Hours after Asos founder Nick Robertson stepped down as chief exec, Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet has also hung up her (super trendy) hat.
Apparently the American-born entrepreneur has fallen out with Federico Marchetti, boss of the Italian fashion group Yoox, which is in the process of acquiring her company from majority owner Richemont. Both are big personalities and commentators have been expressing scepticism for some time about how well they could fit together.
Though Massenet was due to be chairman of the new combined company, Marchetti made it clear in an interview with the FT back in May that there would only be one boss, ‘and that’s me.’ For what it’s worth, he doesn’t sound like the greatest person to work under; ‘They don’t like me…there’s no love,’ he said of his staff.
Massenet resisted the temptation to rock the boat as she told staff about her departure today. In an email obtained by Business Insider, she told workers, ’you know you are now in the exceptional hands of The Net-a-porter Group leadership team as you embark on our new life as the new YOOX-NET-A-PORTER GROUP.’
‘You each have a responsibility to lead by example, to nurture and protect what is good and right in the world, and to remember that our business is here to make people look and feel better so that they too can make a positive impact,’ she added.
It will be interesting to see how the business changes now that she has left, and the extent to which it is integrated with Yoox. A former journalist, Massenet grew Net-a-Porter so successfully by presenting its online store in the format of a magazine (and later launched the print magazine/catalogue Porter), which encouraged customers to come back for more - even if they weren’t looking for something in particular. Whether Yoox will be able to maintain the quality and satisfy the loyal followers of those channels remains to be seen.
Massenet, who founded the business in her Chelsea flat back in 2000, might be a little sanguine to leave but isn’t exactly in dire straits. She is reportedly due a nine-figure payout as the result of a dispute with Richemont over the £1bn valuation it applied to the business when selling to Yoox.
Perhaps she and Robertson could pool their resources to create the next big thing in fashion. Asos-a-Porter, anyone?