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Farfetch CEO steps down amid Coupang upheaval

By Rachel Douglass


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Farfetch's former CEO and founder, José Neves. Credits: Farfetch.

José Neves, the chief executive of Farfetch, is set to step down from the company amid an ongoing shakeup at the firm following a 500 million dollar acquisition by South Korea’s Coupang.

His departure comes as part of a string of layoffs at the company, where chief fashion and merchandising officer Elizabeth Von Der Goltz and head of Farfetch Platform Solutions (FPS) are also preparing to exit.

Neves’ own move was reported by WWD, which had seen an internal memo that stated that the former head was to remain on in a consultancy role and was not yet to be directly replaced. Instead, the business will now be overseen by Coupang founder Bom Kim and Farfetch’s executive team on an interim basis.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed the news to FashionUnited, stating: “As we assessed key priorities and resources across the business, we made the difficult, but necessary, decision to reduce global headcount and redundant roles.

“This decision secures the future of the business and as a result, Farfetch can now operate from a position of strength and focus on what we do best: deliver exceptional experiences for brands, boutiques and customers.”

More job cuts to come over the next few days

According to WWD, more job cuts are also expected to become apparent over the next few days as Coupang looks to streamline the business in an attempt to help its recover “financial strength” through a “better-structured organisation”.

Those impacted – for which a number has not been disclosed – will be informed via conversations starting in Portugal on Friday, followed by the UK and other regions on Monday.

Coupang’s takeover of Farfetch, which was finalised towards the end of January, has already been met with a sense of backlash from both partners and shareholders alike.

Prior to the takeover, Farfetch had previously been reporting a strong liquidity and enterprise value of three billion dollars back in August, only to months later enter into what a group of disgruntled shareholders have now labelled a “distressed sale”.

As such, the investors, which hold over 50 percent of Farfetch’s 3.75 percent convertible senior notes, have taken to contesting the takeover, issuing Farfetch with a winding up petition in the Cayman Islands and requesting for an investigation into Neves’ dealings with the sale, blaming the now former head for “entering into unjustified value-destructive steps”.

Other past loyal partners of Farfetch have also stepped back from the company, with the likes of Kering, Richemont and Neiman Marcus being among those that have terminated or halted their contract with the retailer and its tech offering.