Coach shuts down storefront on Alibaba's Tmall

Designer brand Coach has decided to shut down its storefront on Alibaba's Tmall website - but has been reticent on its reason for the decision.

Coach said it will still sell its products in China only via its own website and its account on social media platform WeChat and was pulling the Tmall portal for 'operational' reasons.

The company was one of the first western luxury brands to endorse the platform, opening its first storefront on the site in 2011 to tap into China's burgeoning demand for designer goods and upgraded to a full portal in 2015. Alibaba said Coach products are still available on Tmall from other merchants.

The luxury goods company has been careful not to link its decision to the ongoing controversy over counterfeits on Alibaba's web platforms, and what some brand owners insist is an ineffective strategy to combat them. The desertion is noteworthy however, particularly as Coach's sales in China have ramped up dramatically since getting on board with the e-commerce site.

Either way, the decision is a blow to Alibaba's ambitions for its business to consumer (B2C) storefronts on eight-year-old Tmall, which it bills as a platform that allows companies to "present their brands as effectively as they do on their company-run websites", and help them "reach consumers among Alibaba’s 430-million-plus active buyers."

Other companies - including LVMH - have complained in the past that unauthorized sellers of their products have turned up on Tmall. Latterly however some LVMH group companies - including Guerlain and Sephora - have established a presence on the site.

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