eBay slipping into fashion daily-deals site

The $200 million purchase of brands4friends is designed to bolster eBay's status as an online outlet for clothing in Europe.

eBay is pulling $200 million out of its wallet for brands4friends, a fashion daily-deals site based in Berlin.

The acquisition, announced today, is designed to build up the auction site's reputation as a source for clothing, shoes, and accessories among European buyers.

As Germany's largest online shopping club, brands4friends offers daily deals to site subscribers and features about 600 brands, including Buffalo, Calvin Klein, and Diesel.

Daily-deals sites have taken off among consumers and now add up to around 20 percent of all online fashion sales in Europe, according to eBay. Launched in 2007, brands4friends has about 3.5 million members in Germany and employs around 200 people.

"With the acquisition of brands4friends," Doug McCallum, senior vice president for eBay in Europe, said in a statement, "we will enter the online shopping club market with an established and dynamic partner who has the expertise, relationships and passion to match our own ambition."

eBay, which accounts for about $4.5 billion in clothing, shoe, and accessory sales annually, is working to focus more heavily on the fashion trade.

Last year, the company opened its eBay Outlet sites in the U.K. and Germany where customers can buy clothing directly from retailers. Earlier this year, eBay launched its Fashion Vault , its partnership with retailers to sell designer clothes at discounts. The company also has its own Fashion iPhone app to help people buy clothes via mobile devices.

The auction site has been on an acquisition kick in general this past year as well.

In June, eBay bought RedLaser , the developer of an iPhone app that scans bar codes to compare products and prices. Earlier this month, it bought Milo , a shopping service that tries to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping. And last week, it picked up mobile app developer Critical Path Software .

The brands4friends purchase calls for eBay to take over the site's equity interests in its U.K. shopping club SecretSales.com and the Japanese version brands4friends.jp. Subject to regulatory approval, the acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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