Stitch Fix goes for biggest US e-com IPO since Etsy

E-com game-changer Stitch Fix has reportedly hired investment banks for an IPO that could value the US personalized fashion retailer between $3 billion and $4 billion. It would the biggest US e-commerce IPO since Etsy.


Stitch Fix's IPO will the biggest for a US e-commerce firm since Etsy - Stitch Fix

San Francisco-based Stitch Fix has hired investment banks Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co to lead the IPO, four people said this week, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Stitch Fix, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan declined to comment.

Founded in 2011 by Harvard Business School graduate Katrina Lake, Stitch Fix has over 5,700 employees. While still not a publicly traded company, it has been boasting its revenues, saying it earned $730 million in sales in its fiscal year for 2016, its third year of profitability.

According to an interview with the New York Times in May, Lake said the company has managed to keep sales up by giving customers what they want, and has kept costs down by operating from a "lean" business model. In the beginning, Stitch Fix chose to rely on word of mouth, not advertising, to promote its business.

"We had a 'lean plan' and a 'lean-lean plan,'" said Lake of the business model.

Stitch Fix sends its customers five personalized apparel and accessories items based on size, budget and style. Customers fill out a survey of their preferences, which the company then uses to select items for them with the aid of a personal stylist. Customers can return what they do not like in the company's prepaid packaging. If a customer decides to keep all items, they receive a 25% discount.

Stitch Fix works with more than 250 women's fashion brands, including Joie and Citizens for Humanity, and more than 30 men's brands including Scotch & Soda. It has also ventured into plus-size and maternity wear.

Stitch Fix is a variant on the popular e-commerce "subscription box" model, in which customers pay to have regular - often monthly - shipments of goods. Stitch Fix offers subscriptions, but does not require customers to subscribe to use their service.

Subscription businesses such as cosmetics supplier Birchbox and athleisure brand Fabletics have proliferated in recent years, offering retailers more predictable revenue streams, albeit at the expense of putting off some customers who do not like the commitment of a subscription.

The reach of subscription businesses has attracted corporate acquirers in recent years. Subscription shave business Dollar Shave Club, for example, agreed last year to be sold to consumer goods company Unilever Plc for $1 billion.

With additional reporting by Reuters

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