has won the heart of the former boss of online dating site as it launches in Italy and seeks to expand its European presence.

The furniture etailer has hired the former chief executive of’s European arm Philippe Chainieux as its first managing director, reporting to chief executive Ning Li, Retail Week can reveal.

Chainieux oversaw the European arm of the dating site’s transition from start-up to a listing on the French stock market, with revenue of more than €169m (£142.5m) in 2012 across 15 markets. launched in Italy today a market said is “untapped” by furniture etailers despite its status as a design hub.

Li said: “We see the launch in Italy as a validation of our international growth strategy and it’s exciting to have a talent like Philippe at the helm of our rapid expansion.

“The Italian consumer knows furniture better than anyone and there’s a lot of e-commerce potential for us to capitalise on in this country.” ventured overseas for the first time in January when it began trading in France, which now accounts for 15% of sales.

The etailer, which launched its first TV ad campaign this month, has an average order value of £400 and 200,000 customers a year.