Russia's KupiVIP raises another $8m as Europe pounces on buyers clubs

Buyers clubs along the lines of Vente Privee (which started in France) and Brand For Friends in Germany are spreading like wildfire across Europe and no wonder. They are business models tailor-made for the recession, offering big discounts on designer goods among almost guaranteed buyers. They hit revenue almost from the word go and the jungle drums tell me that Vente-Privee is on course to deliver hundreds of millions in revenue this year alone.

Now online shopping club in Russia, operated by Privat Trade Ltd has raised $8 million in a second round of funding from Mangrove Capital Partners, Arlan, and ABRT Fund, we hear from Russian blog/search startup Quintura. The company previously raised $3 million from the same investors. The site organises designer brand online sales in fashion and fashion accessories with discounts of up to 70% off boutique prices. KupiVIP has hit 200,000 registered users since launching last October.

Now, Brands4friends is also Mangrove backed. Notice a trend anyone? Expand into big territories and then exit by rolling up these startups into a sale to a retailer hit by the downturn that needs a new model. QED, perhaps…

As I wrote in February last year, News International saw the trend early in the UK and invested in online fashion company Brand Alley UK, which offers private sales and bargains designer fashion brands. The joint venture with French online boutique BrandAlley is, of course, a luxury “private members’ club”. BrandAlley was launched in 2005, is backed with VC cash (I’m just checking who) and claims a membership base of well over 1.3 million and 200 brands.