Retailer-Fashion Brand Matchups Thrill Wall Street But Often Fail

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The fashion industry trades have been buzzing with news about the latest brand linkups with a marquee retailers. One of the latest is Nordstrom’s purchase of a minority stake in ASOS, a British online fashion retailer catering to the twenty-something market, a profitable segment in which ailing Nordstrom lags.

 

The matchup may prove to be a big success, but it does sound a bit like Walmart’s misadventure with Jet.com. Walmart bought Jet —an Amazon imitator selling branded apparel and some home goods — just over a year after the site was first formally launched, paying a hefty $3.3 billion. It was a thrilling day for the venture capital crowd that had reportedly invested $350 million in the startup phase.

 

Jet.com as a source of revenue for Walmart was a flop. The division lost $2 billion in 2019. In May 2020, when Walmart finally shut it down, executives eulogized Jet as the engine driving Walmart’s store branded digital strategy. It wasn't a failure, they seemed to be saying. It was a learning experience.

 

The Nordstrom announcement in July was as full of promise as Walmart’s had been in the beginning with Jet. The Nordstrom statement’s headline: “A Game-Changing Joint-Venture.” Nordstrom will have exclusive North American retail and distribution rights for some coveted youth market fashion brands.

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