The Rise of The Empire Net-A-Porter Natalie Massenet
We have one of the last interviews carried out prior to the resignation of Natalie Massenet in 2015 who was the former Chairman and founder of Net-A-Porter.
Do you remember when you thought that actually, e-commerce is the future?
It was 1999 and e-commerce was the present, actually. Amazon was taking off and everybody was talking about shopping online but it was not a time for fashion to be online.
Did you imagine at the time that you would become so big and successful?
Well, at the beginning it was all about just doing it. There was very little thought to global domination, really, it was more about let’s do something right, lets do something that appeals to….it appealed to me, I thought theres gotta be a few other people out there who will like this, in fact our first year we turned over £250,000, we were looking to be profitable very quickly.
Why did you succeed when other failed?
We were insiders in the fashion space….with the connections, with the ability to call Tamara Mellon, Jimmy Choo and Anya Hindmarach and say “You’ll be able to click on the page and buy it”, and they were like “Hey, sounds great, Natalie!” We came at it from the consumer point of view rather than from the spreadsheet.
What kind of leader are you?
Well, I’m a reluctant leader, I am very comfortable in the background, ironically, as it turns out when you start a business you have to be adaptable and talk about it a lot in front of shareholders, brands, team, as the team gets bigger you need to stand on a chair then you need a microphone, then you’re broadcasting so I get pushed forward a lot but I’m super happy in the background.
How did you make Porter magazine different and meaningful?
The entire magazine is shoppable, so anything that says to you “I love that, I want to be part of it”, whether it’s reading a book, whether it’s a pair of Aqua Zara lace-up sandals or a Valentino gown for an event that you may be dreaming to go to, you can have it.
Which competitors do you most worry about?
I know it’s cliched to say it, but we see ourselves as our biggest competition. I think that the day we say “Oh, yeah, we’ve done that, then we’re good….let’s take a vacation” is the day we’re gonna fall off a cliff.
Where do you see the company in three, four years?
Well, we’re going to be the same but bigger, we’ve only just began, our penetration and our addressable market is still negligible, we’ve got cities that we aren’t even talking to, so I think, just keeping our heads down, focusing on the consumer, focusing on our brand partnerships and doing everything that we’re doing but doing it better, we’ll be bigger, certainly, and we’ll be thriving and innovating.
Having launched Net-A-Porter in 2000 as a premier online luxury destination, she also created the e-talier The Outnet and menswear platform Mr Porter in 2009 and 2011 under the Net-A-Porter Group umbrella. In 2014 their print publication Porter Magazine.
In 2015 Massenet announced she was stepping down from her role just weeks before the announcement that the company would be merging with the Italian e-commerse giant Yoox Group. After leaving she focused on her role as chair of the British Fashion Council to which she was appointed in 2013.
This time last year, February 2017, Massenet confirmed her role as non executive co-chairman of the fashion e-commerce platform Farfetch.
In 2009 Natalie Massenet was awarded an MBE and in January 2016 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire - both of these awards were for her contribution to the UK fashion and retail industry.