Here’s a new, growing morning trend that Londoners are embracing, and that involves spending a lot before you even get into the office, says the boss of Matchesfashion.com. A cheerful Ulric Jerome reveals that traffic to his luxury clothing website peaks between half past six and eight in the morning, as city workers frantically click to buy Burberry and Belstaff before breakfast. âIt’s addicting,â he laughs.
The entrepreneur says early risers who use Matchesfashion’s express service, which delivers to well-heeled shoppers in 90 minutes, are buying outfits to wear to work the same day. “It’s not uncommon for business leaders to buy last-minute ties, shirts or heels.”
Jerome, himself dressed in gray Gucci pants and a white shirt created by his fashion designer brother Mathieu, brags about the growing customer base as he showcases the company’s new creative center in Stratford.
It points to a model pictured in a Dolce & Gabbana swimsuit and men in Paul Smith suits filmed on a catwalk. Speaking loudly to compete with Katy Perry’s Roar echoing through the building, Jerome says, âEvery garment we sell comes to this site, where our team uploads products online, describes them in detail and includes photos and videos we have created here. It was a big investment. ”
The well-groomed 40-year-old, who has a soft French accent, says it is vital to “continue to invest on a large scale”. Rival Yoox Net-a-Porter diversifies into children’s clothing, and another adversary, Farfetch, headquartered in London , unveiled this week its intention to be floated on the New York Stock Exchange.
Luxury experts also point out that designer brands, which have been slow to get live, are now creating their own digital divisions and trying to sell directly to consumers.
Jerome remains optimistic, however, and believes there are “massive opportunities” for the 31-year-old company he has run since 2015. He says more spending is planned, with overseas recruitment drives and a new one. Major townhouse in Mayfair which will open next month for guests to use. Chef’s confidence comes after 12 milestone months for Matchesfashion. Sales of the Shard-based company jumped 44% to Â£ 293million in the year through January.
Its founders, husband-and-wife team Ruth and Tom Chapman, started with a store in Wimbledon in 1987, but spotted the digital opportunity over a decade ago, getting ahead online. Last year they took in Â£ 400million by selling a controlling stake in funds advised by private equity group Apax Partners. The company now has five stores in the capital and delivers to more than 176 countries.
In JÃ©rÃ´me, born in Paris, the new owner of the company has inherited a leader whose experience includes fashion and technology. The entrepreneur’s mother worked for Vogue magazine in the United States and his father sold fabrics to high fashion houses. Jerome’s first weekend job was as a sales assistant at French label Kenzo. He says, âI was in constant direct contact with customers and learned so much about the high end market.
JÃ©rÃ´me then changed fashion for finance. He started an economics course in Paris and completed his studies at Concordia University in Canada. Between lectures, the avowed tech geek created an online investment fund specializing in options trading. He also started an online student community that gave universities access to CEOs, with bosses agreeing to do interviews and speeches in the hopes of attracting graduates to their companies.
JÃ©rÃ´me returned to France in 2002, where he and a friend founded online electronics retailer Pixmania. . JÃ©rÃ´me says: âI had seen how massive Amazon was becoming in the United States, but we had not yet seen them making waves in Europe. Pixmania achieved a turnover of 1 billion euros in eight years and was sold to Dixons in 2006 for an undisclosed amount.
This success put JÃ©rÃ´me on the radar of the bookmaker Paddy Power , who appointed him non-executive director. The entrepreneur also caught the attention of one of Matchesfashion’s backers, Scottish Equity Partners, who invited him to lunch in 2012 to âshare ideasâ with the Chapmans.
Jerome speaks quickly and enthusiastically as he recalls the meeting at the Arts Club in Mayfair: âI asked them which designers they were working with, the average selling price and the margins. I was like “wow, maybe we have a chance to rewrite a page in e-commerce history.”
“I was like ‘wow, maybe we have the chance to rewrite a page in e-commerce history'”
He moved to London soon after to join the company as COO, with the task of helping his online business grow. It was not an easy job, remembers Pierre Denis , the CEO of high heel maker Jimmy Choo. Denis says: âHe joined a small business at that time, in a very competitive world with Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Yoox.
But Denis says Jerome’s “vision and conviction” has helped Matchesfashion win an army of new customers, impressed by a wide range of famous designers and rising stars, and by the technology that has made shopping easy. The president of the Italian fashion house Moncler, Remo Ruffini, is also a fan and says that Jerome has “lively and intelligent ideas”.
Other peers suggest that Jerome is not child’s play. Anouck Duranteau-Loeper, the deputy chief of Isabel Marant, describes him as “strong, but just in business”. Ronan Harris, Google Managing Director UK & Ireland, jokes: âSometimes he doesn’t listen. Or maybe it’s just that he doesn’t listen to me sometimes.
JÃ©rÃ´me became chef three years ago when the Chapmans were retiring. Since then he has opened the new Stratford studio, launched websites in France and South Korea, and signed up for a huge new distribution center at Heathrow, which will allow the company to stock more product.
He will not comment on his stake in the company, stating curtly that he does not “communicate” this information. But its tone is more sympathetic since it details new projects such as the opening of 5 Carlos Place in Mayfair, which combines physical and digital shopping.
Customers can shop there clothes, have private style consultations, or head to the top floor, where the team will record podcasts or film interviews with creative chefs on the latest trends. JÃ©rÃ´me declares: âThis will attract new customers. No one has done this before and all eyes will be looking at it. ”
He is also looking to increase his income by expanding beyond clothing. Matchesfashion launched a first range of household items, offering well-heeled shoppers Â£ 150 Anya Hindmarch candles and Â£ 375 Roksanda blankets. Further expansion in Asia and the United States is also planned.
The new growth plans come at the right time as competition intensifies, according to Warwick Business School luxury goods expert Professor Qing Wang. She says, “The pressure for Matchesfashion is its size and growth.” She points out: âFarfetch is preparing a public listing only 10 years after its creation, and Yoox Net-a-Porter has worldwide sales of more than 2 billion euros.
Jerome ignores threats from the competition and says the online luxury market is still in its âearly stages,â with plenty of room to develop. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t seem to have itchy entrepreneurial feet. He says, âI’m here for the long haul. I believe we are still at the start of our journey.
Besides, he doesn’t have time to be bored because he’s too busy, he laughs. The boss, who drives an Uber into London Bridge every morning from his Kensington home, said: “I’m not good at working outside the house, but I’m trying to improve myself and I’m working on it.”
Now he’s trying to come back to dinner with his actress wife Gabriella and say goodnight to their new baby girl. If Jerome has free time, regulars at Chelsea’s sushi restaurant Oka might spot him. At home, he likes to serve coffee to his friends, in his Gucci coffee maker, of course.
Sounds like a good ploy to wire up guests for an early morning shopping spree.