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GA joins Matrix on luxury goods deal

The private equity firms have invested a fresh $43m in Gilt Groupe, known for online ‘sample sales’ of high-end consumer items.

General Atlantic has led a $43 million C-round of financing in Gilt Groupe, a start-up online retailer of luxury goods, known for its “sample sale” style merchandising.

New York-based Gilt was originally backed by venture capital firm Matrix Partners, which seeded it with $5 million in 2007. Matrix also participated in this latest round.

Gilt has “quintupled its membership in the past year, with 1.3 million registered members in the US and more than 200,000 on its five-month-old Japanese site”, according to a statement.

The ‘sample sale’, a New York phenomenon where consumers line up around the block on a single day to buy top designer items at steep discounts, is now available for the first time online.

Gilt statement

The company informs its members about special discounts through “flash sales”, similar to brick-and-mortar style sample sales, characterised by limited-time inventory sales at deep discounts. “The ‘sample sale’, a New York phenomenon where consumers line up around the block on a single day to buy top designer items at steep discounts, is now available for the first time online and to shoppers nationally through Gilt Groupe,” the company noted in a 2007 statement.

Established by eBay Canada founder Alexis Maybank and Bulgari executive Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Gilt will use the proceeds of the investment to expand further into fashion retailing and the travel industry.

General Atlantic partner Anton Levy joined the Gilt Groupe’s board in connection with the financing.