Federico Marchetti is moving rapidly on his promise to invest and expand in London, with the planned creation of a technology hub for Yoox Net-a-porter Group that’s set to open in March, designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw’s architecture practice.
The Technology Hub at White City Place, will be located next to the Yoox Net-a-porter offices at Westfield London, and will span 70,000 square feet with total capacity for 650 staff.
The plan is to unify YNAP’s U.K. technology teams in one location, on the heels of a new, long-term partnership with IBM. The aim of the tech hub is to provide “best-in-class facilities designed to accommodate growth, maximize innovation and collaborate across the teams,” with a particular focus on mobile-centric culture, according to the company.
In March, YNAP unveiled a major partnership with IBM to unite the newly merged Yoox and Net businesses on one platform, improve customer service and speed to market, and capture quality data.
YNAP also plans to ramp up its development of personalized customer and tailored brand experience, mobile and native app technology, customer insights and analytics, social media marketing, and cognitive capabilities.
The British architecture firm Grimshaw said it plans to create a stylish, “forward-thinking work environment,” with up to a quarter of the surface dedicated to adaptive space.
The design will aim to encourage “creative and collaborative ways of working, supporting seamless operations with the Bologna-based tech team and other parts of the global business,” according to YNAP.
The company said the new hub would accommodate the planned 20 percent increase in YNAP’s global technology team, made up of 1,000 employees, who will be split equally between the U.K. and Italy.
The company said the hub would encourage engineers to accelerate the group’s research and development and release the next wave of innovations.
“We are capitalizing on the growth of our global footprint by bringing together our London technology teams in a new Technology Hub,” said Marchetti, chief executive officer at YNAP. “We believe our technology teams will thrive in a cutting-edge environment that reflects our values and vision for the future of online luxury retail.”
The award-winning Grimshaw, whose buildings include The Eden Project, Heathrow Terminal 3 and the National Space Centre in Leicester, England, called the new fit-out “dynamic and flexible.”
Rajesh Agrawal, deputy mayor of London for business and enterprise, said he welcomed more tech jobs flowing into the British capital: “London is open for business, new investment and global talent.”
Marchetti believes Brexit will not impact his plans to grow the business, which is based between the U.K. and Italy and listed on the Milan Bourse.
“We expect to hire a couple of hundred people in London and are expanding our offices here. All in all we believe in this market and in London and we’ll continue to grow here,” Marchetti said in July during a capital markets presentation, in which he laid out the company’s five-year plan.
Of Britain’s vote to quit the European Union, Marchetti said at the time: “We were surprised, but we were not taken by surprise,” as he touted the company’s 2020 revenue projection of up to 4.1 billion euros, or $4.52 billion, at current exchange.
That number takes into account the impact of the weaker sterling, and any difficulties relating to the movement of goods, he said.
The new hub will be located at White City Place, a new business district covering 17 acres in White City, West London, home of the Westfield shopping mall. The new space consists of three buildings: the MediaWorks (where the YNAP tech hub will be located), the WestWorks and Garden House.
White City Place was the original home of the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908, which created a vast complex of white pavilions and pleasure parks in Wood Lane, hence the name White City. The site was also the home of the 1908 Olympics stadium during the first Olympic Games to be held in the U.K.