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Net-A-Porter’s Natalie Massenet has quit – and it was the right thing to do

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Summer holidays for CEOs are a time to reflect on where they are going, and what they want to do next and Net-A-Porter boss Natalie Massenet obviously did just that, because she came back from hers to announce she would exit her business rather than see it led by another.

Although Massenet was to be the executive-chairman of a merged Net-A-Porter and Yoox and oversee all its editorial content, it had been made clear, several times and from the outset, that Yoox boss Federico Marchetti, would be calling the shots day to day.

Two entrepreneurial founders in one organisation was probably never going to work and Massenet should be applauded for recognising that ahead of the merger.

Now the focus is on how  Net and Yoox will get on without her. From a culture point of view, the Net-A-Porter business will undoubtedly be different and the challenge for Marchetti is can he take the best of what made Net so special and make it work across the two businesses at scale and at a profit?

In a week where LVMH signalled it was about to get serious about online and digital by hiring Apple exec Ian Rogers, as its chief digital officer, the competition in the online luxury space is set to get hotter.

Conde Nast is  gearing up to turn its luxury media real estate into  “stores” or  shoppable, Massanet must look like a ready made candidate to lead it into what is a new era for luxury publishing.

However, the question the industry – and no doubt Natalie Massanet herself – will be pondering is this: Is today’s Natalie Massanet happy to transform somebody else’s business or, after 15 years of being her own boss and calling the shots, will she look to continue to protect the autonomy her hard work and singular vision has won her?

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