Developing a business is a long cycle. 20 years old is young and mature. During these two decades, we went through several phases. Between 2000-2004, we experimented with the model and our notoriety was about to be built. We are inventing a new way of selling products via digital, becoming an online discount store, but there is still no ADSL. Between 2004-2010, we achieved incredible growth. We went from 0 to 1 billion euros in sales. We have been profitable since 2004, we have hired 2,500 people without raising money, “Google Free”. It’s quite unique. From 2010 to 2018, we faced the American adventure (Veepee was launched in the American market in 2011 but in 2014 the company withdrew due to lack of profitability, editor’s note), the arrival of competition, the maturity of the Internet, with a discount is developing in all retail including brands… The sector is increasingly tight. In 2019, we are reorienting our model in Europe after two years of external growth (purchases from Privalia, Vente-exclusive.com, etc.). We are becoming leaders in Europe. 2020-22 are years of integration, of matrix reorganization, of maturity in our know-how. Today, we remain an independent, profitable, unlisted company, free from its fate. We continue to be a creative, innovative and solid company.
Today, we remain an independent, profitable, unlisted company, free from its fate.
How was 2021?
It is difficult to answer this question. It is true that the context of shortages was extremely favorable with stores closed. But our travel business was impacted. Today, brands want to bring their factories closer to distribution points, manufacturing less in China. Since July 2021, brands that have suffered are producing less, which naturally leads to a decrease in their inventories.
What are the next steps in your development?
Our areas of development are fourfold. De-stocking remains our core business. Thanks to our extremely powerful traffic, we develop on trips, without going through Google. We reached almost 400 million euros in turnover in 2019. We went to zero during the confinement in 2020. Two years later, we returned to the numbers of 2019. Traveling is Veepee’s biggest success in terms of diversification. Third axis, our marketplace, the “Brandsplace”. We connect brand catalogs and liven up your promotions on the latest collections. Thus, we connected 21 brands of the L’Oréal group. Veepee is the only site in the world where our members can place products from L’Oréal’s four activities in their basket: luxury, parapharmacy, FMCG (consumer goods) and hairdressing. And finally, last strong axis the second hand.
Precisely, where are you in your second-hand “recycling” program?
We develop many projects around second hand. At the end of 2020, we launched “Reciclar”, an initiative in favor of more sustainable fashion. Members can return items they have in their wardrobes in exchange for a voucher given by the brand or distributor. These products are collected, washed, sorted, re-filmed and resold on our platform. We offer daily sales on the site. Last year, that represented over 200,000 pieces. Another initiative is the “Re-turn” service, which allows members to resell a product to the Veepee community instead of returning it. The aim is to avoid the costs of transport, sorting, returning to the brand and therefore reducing our carbon footprint. This is the beginning of our C2C approach. We are moving towards services where we are less dependent on branded inventory, as there are millions of pieces in our members’ closets.
Does it make you think about your model or the products for sale on the platform?
We are at the end of the industrial chain. Our work as a digital discount seller implies that we do not produce anything. We sell unsold items and thus participate in this circular economy. So we are influencers. We haven’t sold animal skins for about ten years. Brands are free to choose and strike a balance between profitability, ethics, morality, long-term vision and their need to support consumers in protecting the planet. We take concrete actions that we believe are important to us and our members.
My long-term view of the company and Veepee’s services allow me to not manage the company solely from a financial perspective.
That independence comes at a price, and it’s our choice. When we do secondhand, it’s not opportunism. We’ve been thinking about this for a long time.
In which countries are you present today? What are the most dynamic states?
We buy the leaders in Europe. We are currently present in ten countries. We’ve reorganized since the health crisis. We were in two countries in South America, Mexico and Brazil. We sold the first one and are in the process of the second. We redirect to Europe. We closed small countries B to C: Denmark, Poland, etc. but also England just before Brexit. Today, we are in five zones: Benelux, Germany and Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France. And it’s still a branded trade, very Latin. France represents 55% of our sales and therefore 45% to other countries in general. We managed to be a European company.
In early January, the company migrated to a single European platform. What were the challenges?
This project required three to four years of work. We were able to move eight e-commerce platforms, with significant turnover on each of them (overall €3.2 billion in 2021), continuing our expansion, to a single platform on January 11, 2022. A tedious and expensive project, very technical, with tools to be harmonized for European teams. We have installed the Veepee brand since 2019 (formerly vente-privee.com), and we still have two brands in Spain and Italy (Privalia and Veepee). We have achieved this European integration. The platform has 66 million members, 4.5 million daily unique visitors. We have the highest daily rate of return on the web, 35%. And that traffic remains our Holy Grail. Veepee is a powerful selling media that works with 7,000 brands and sells over 100 million products a year.
You returned to Veepee operational controls in 2019, is it temporary?
I had two unfortunate experiences with DGs, it’s my fault because I chose them. I’ve decided to do the opposite, taking over Veepee’s reins, so it’s not temporary. I now work with two DGAs and am much more involved operationally. It suits me, and I hope the teams do too.
You are part of the first generation of digital entrepreneurs, how do you see the evolution of the e-commerce landscape?
Today, e-commerce is no longer the prerogative of startups or pure players. It belongs to the “phygital”. I’ve always considered e-commerce just a way to sell. We are merchants. With digital, the consumer has become king, he is free and informed. He has access to all the competition with one click. He thus has the opportunity to go to a store if he wants to or have it delivered by buying on the Internet…
What is your view on qualifying emerging technologies like Web3, metaverse, NFT, etc.?
It is an extremely addictive and attractive virtual world. However, it remains a parallel world. I can understand him, but he doesn’t appeal to me personally. Web3 is based on the property of the virtual, of digital objects, on speculation, it is ultracapitalism. When I see that young people prefer to buy virtual land, with the money earned with bitcoins, instead of buying an apartment, it’s quite fascinating. However, behind the metaverse, an extremely energy-intensive world is emerging. To be able to move qualitatively in a pixel virtual world, server needs are very consequential.
What lessons do you draw from the current crisis in terms of reorganization and flexibility?
In addition to the logistics and shooting teams, we have telecommuted 5,000 people as of March 16, 2020. We were ready because we had experienced the Yellow Vest demonstrations and the RATP strikes. And we managed to implement teleworking in all our countries. We only really launched the return to the office of employees on October 10, 2021. We operate the company for 18 months in a completely “remote” way. The health crisis made it possible to rethink the organization of work by setting up the flex office very freely. Our employees work 2 to 3 days a week remotely, depending on the decision of each manager. It’s a revolution. With the crisis that we are experiencing and that continues with the war in Ukraine and the underlying threats, the vision of work is different. If you don’t implement a more modern way of working, you will have a hard time recruiting new employees.
When you look back at your journey through the rearview mirror, what are you most proud of?
I’m more of a dissatisfied person, tending to look at what I’ve lost rather than what I’ve achieved. Nonetheless, having a company with almost 6,000 people, being able to implement a long-term vision and being able to set up a progressive work organization gives me crazy energy. A company, even if you are the main shareholder, is no longer entirely yours. It belongs to the people who work there and dedicate part of their lives to it. This allows you to consider big projects because you have the power to carry them out.
Born in 1962, Jacques-Antoine Granjon graduated from the European Business School in Paris. In 1985, he founded, with a former partner, his first company called Cofotex. It already specializes in end-of-series wholesale.
In 2001, with seven partners, it launched a supply site dedicated to the private sale of products under the brand “Vente-privee.com”. The company offers sponsored customers products from major brands at discounted prices. It is based on a double concept: the event and exclusivity.
In 2019, vente-privee.com becomes Veepee.