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DOUBLING UP: Condé Nast operations on both sides of the Atlantic have joined forces to break into the global e-commerce game, with the first shoots of new business set to appear before the end of next year. Condé Nast in the U.S. and Condé Nast International have launched a new division devoted to e-commerce, naming Franck Zayan, who is currently responsible for the e-commerce activities of Galeries Lafayette, as president.
Zayan will be based in London, and begin work on Jan. 6.
He will report to a newly formed, trans-Atlantic board that includes Charles Townsend and Robert Sauerberg, chief executive officer and president of Condé Nast, respectively; Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and ceo of Condé Nast International, and Nicholas Coleridge, president of Condé Nast International.
In an interview with WWD, Newhouse said no decisions have been made about what the new e-commerce division will sell. “Franck Zayan is very experienced and knowledgeable with regard to e-commerce, and it will be up to him, with the support of the board, to determine the strategy and business plan.”
In the statement, Newhouse said Zayan’s brief is to “explore and develop ideas which can serve our readers, users, advertising clients and business partners.”
Asked about timing, Newhouse said: “I believe that sometime before the end of next year, we’ll be engaged in some sort of new business activity.”
Newhouse said that while the Condé Nast units are used to communicating with each other and sharing ideas, the new e-commerce division marks the first time the two units have collaborated on an undertaking of this scale. “The nature of e-commerce is global and brand-based, and we thought it was a wise course to take a global approach,” he said.
The new venture should come as no surprise since Condé Nast International has become increasingly involved with e-commerce outside its editorial portfolio. In September, the company led a $20 million investment in Paris-based luxury e-commerce Web site Vestiaire Collective. In March, it led a $20 million round of funding into Farfetch.com. The Farfetch investment was made on the heels of Condé Nast Germany’s purchase of a 26 percent stake in Monoqi, an online store for high-end, contemporary furniture and interior design.
Earlier this year, Condé Nast Germany also upped its stake in RenéSim, a luxury online jeweler, to 46 percent. The site offers high-end jewelry, colored gemstones and diamonds as well as custom-made jewelry.
Last month, Condé Nast International named Moritz von Laffert its director of acquisitions and investments, a new post. Von Laffert, who is based in Germany, will be responsible for overseeing the publishing firm’s investments in external companies and start-ups, particularly in the digital sector.