QVC considers buying brands

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Mike George, who took over as chief executive of Liberty Media’s QVC shopping channel last month, wants QVC to make its first acquisitions of developing brands, as it explores future growth strategies.

Mr George told the FT that the network, which had sales last year of more than $6bn, has played a significant role in developing young brands, both through its own sales and by driving sales at other retailers.

“Retailers such as Nordstrom and Sephora absolutely see a peak in sales of items we feature,” he said. “We think we can be a little more aggressive in capturing the value we create because of the marketing lift that we give the brands that we feature.”

Bare Escentuals, one of QVC’s most popular featured cosmetic brands, is planning an initial public offering for later this year that is expected to value its operations at up to $1bn.

Mr George, who spent five years as chief marketing officer at Dell computers before joining QVC in November, said QVC would be looking carefully for early or mid-life brands.

“We want to capture brands early on, where we can add value,” he said, adding that there would be potential for acquisitions across the range of QVC’s sales.

He said the channel was also continuing its effort to attract more prestigious brands – such as Michael Kors’ accessories – and to encourage personal appearances by designers.

“We can get a designer on the air, to tell their story, and they get more of an emotional engagement with the customer.

“Home shopping quite frankly has a bit of a stigma attached, and so in the past we have had to invent our own, or get secondary brands. That stigma is starting to fade.”

He noted that the company was continuing its efforts to develop its online presence, to build on internet sales of just over $1bn last year – making it one of the leading online retailers.

Current initiatives included seeking a planned new relationship that would place QVC’s online content on AOL’s web portal and efforts to make its video available to support online shopping.

The company, whose performance in the UK, Germany and Japan accounts for about a third of its sales, is due to launch a service providing video to mobile phone subscribers in the UK later this year. This follows the launch of a similar scheme in Japan last year.

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