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At a private luncheon today at 11 Madison Park, American Express and French flash-sale site Vente-Privee.com announced a partnership to launch a yet-unnamed fashion flash-sale site slated to launch later this year in the United States.
Vente-privee is the 10-year old brainchild of businessman Jacques-Antoine Granjon and his seven partners—it's a major e-commerce player in Europe, with 12.3 million members. The company sold 41 million items in Europe last year—on average, they distribute more than 75,000 parcels each day. The only flash sale site to publicly confirm that they are profitable—the company grossed €969 million last year alone—Vente-Privee eschews the typical American flash-sale start-up model that's embodied by companies such as Gilt. Unlike Gilt, Vente-Privee has not raised money from venture capitalists, has been profitable since 2004, and does not advertise. Between carrying zero debt and succeeding in a European economy—one that's not been particularly quick to by and large adapt to the flash sale format ("People are more pessimistic," Granjon says, "they consume less.")—the company hopes to bring its Midas touch to the States.
While the yet-unnamed start-up will be available for public use, regardless of payment method, American Express indicates that it will farm its membership data to determine scale and volume of inventory. According to company reps, the new venture will rely on word-of-mouth marketing.
· American Express [Official Site]
· Vente-Privee.com Official Site]