Kyle Bean for Fortune
By Phil Wahba
September 15, 2014

Neiman Marcus Group is stepping up its efforts go global.

The luxury retailer, which only operates department stores and outlet stores in the United States, has announced a rare acquisition: a deal to buy the Munich-based Mytheresa.com online luxury business from founders Christoph and Susanne Botschen and Acton Capital Partners.

It is Neiman’s latest move to cater to the wealthy around the world without opening new physical stores. The acquisition will also bring Neiman into direct competition with global online luxury retailers like Net-a-Porter and The Corner, which is owned by Italian e-commerce site Yoox Group. Neiman Marcus is also buying Theresa’s flagship store in central Munich, as part of a deal whose terms were not disclosed.

Neiman, with annual sales nearing the $5 billion mark, already serves customers living in some 120 countries through its websites. But its efforts have not been without setbacks: last year, Neiman closed a warehouse in China that it had opened to more quickly fill orders made on its China e-commerce site, saying it would instead resume filling those orders from the U.S.

The Mytheresa.com deal takes it up a notch for the company, whose chief executive, Karen Katz, has made no secret of her international ambitions for Neiman.

“This acquisition is an important component of our long-range strategy to more broadly serve affluent customers around the world. Mytheresa has a very nice foothold in Europe and a developing foothold in Asia,” Katz told Women’s Wear Daily.

The Mytheresa.com follows on the heels of Neiman’s announcement earlier this month that it was finally opening a flagship store in Manhattan in 2018. That store, Katz told Fortune, will play a key role in building Neiman’s international clientele.

Neiman will operate Mytheresa.com as a separate business unit, much as its Bergdorf Goodman store is run separately from the Neiman Marcus stores.

Mytheresa.com was launched in 2006 and has, along with the flagship, annual sales of about $130 million. It sells clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories by some 170 international top designers such as Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Valentino, among others. The product range includes clothing, shoes, bags and accessories. Around 500 new products go online every week. About two-thirds of Mytheresa’s revenue comes from outside of Germany.

While retail in many major markets has been sluggish, international luxury continues to offer stores the best growth prospects: worldwide sales of personal luxury goods (i.e. clothes, shoes but not travel) were estimated to to rise 4-6% in 2014 Bain & Co and Italian luxury industry association Altagamma projected in a study released in May.

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