Online fashion firm Yoox on M&A radar

MILAN, March 8 (Reuters) - Online fashion retailer Yoox (YOOX.MI) is more likely to buy companies than sell in the fast-growing Internet clothing market as it ramps up its presence in China and the United States.

Yoox
yoox.com

Analysts expect a new consolidation trend in the luxury goods industry after France's luxury group LVMH (LVMH.PA) agreed to take over Italian jeweller Bulgari (BULG.MI) this week.

"Our ears are pricked up for acquisitions," Yoox founder and Chief Executive Federico Marchetti told Reuters at the group's 2010 results presentation on Wednesday.

Online fashion retailer Privalia moved this week to buy Germany's Dress for Less in an estimated 150-200 million euro ($208 million) deal.

Marchetti said he would not consider buying discount retailers, as the group steps up its full-price offerings.

Yoox, which powers sites for top brands such as Valentino and Roberto Cavalli alongside its own multibrand websites, expects in-season apparel to account for half of the group's net revenues by 2015.

Marchetti said he would not expect a takeover bid on the listed company in the near future.

"We see ourselves more as buyers than target," he said.

Yoox plans to invest around 20 million euros over the next five years, mainly on innovation.

It sees China as one of its top three markets in 2015, with the United States overtaking Italy to become No. 1 this year.

Online clothing retailers such as British rival ASOS (ASOS.L) have enjoyed booming sales growth during the economic slowdown, as more customers discover the convenience of shopping remotely.

Yoox's net profit more than doubled to 9.1 million euros in 2010, while sales grew 41 percent to 214.3 million euros, helped by the launch in China of the Emporio Armani online store.

Yoox shares closed up 2.33 percent at 9.90 euros, outperforming the Milan's all shares index .FTITLMS.

(Additional reporting by Sabina Suzzi, writing by Antonella Ciancio; Editing by Richard Chang)

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