(Reuters) - American Express Co, the world's largest credit card issuer, said it would close its joint venture with French online start-up Vente-Privee by the end of the year.
Vente-Privee sells luxury fashion, wine and music at steep discounts in "flash sales" that last three to five days.
Vente-Privee began operating in the United States in 2011 in a joint venture with American Express to access an affluent client base of card holders, giving it instant credibility and brand recognition despite not being a household name outside Europe.
"Both companies decided that given the road to profitability for vente-privee USA was going to be longer than expected, it was time to focus on other priorities," American Express' spokeswoman Leah Gerstner said in an email.
Vente-Privee USA will continue to operate and fulfil its sales events and customer orders through the end of the year, the spokeswoman said.
Launched in 2001, Vente-Privee has grown fast and is now one of Europe's biggest homegrown online retailers, with a presence in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.
(Reporting By Neha Dimri in Bangalore)