Another hit for the high street as Boohoo acquires Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis

Online fashion retailer Boohoo has acquired the former Arcadia group brands Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton in a £25m deal

The deal mirrors the retailer’s recent brand-only acquisition of Debenhams, and rival Asos’s recent acquisition of other Arcadia brands Top Shop, Top Man and Miss Selfridge, in that it does not include any of the brands’ 214 UK stores., which are not all set to close.

The deal includes the brands’ e-commerce business, digital assets and association intellectual property (IP) rights, including customer data, business information and inventory.

Boohoo is seemingly capitalising on the pandemic-induced growth of online shopping, having already acquired the brands Oasis, Coast and Karen Millen out of administration, along with its recent deal for Debenhams.

Boohoo chief executive John Lyttle said acquiring the well-known British fashion brands out of administration ensures their heritage is sustained, while its investment aims to transform them into brands that are fit for the current market environment.

He said: “We have a successful track record of integrating British heritage fashion brands onto our proven multi-brand platform, and we are looking forward to bringing these brands on board.”

Mahmud Kamani, Boohoo executive chairman, called it “a great acquisition for the group” extending its market share across a broader demographic, capitalising on growth opportunities as more and more customers shop online. He added: “We continue to grow our portfolio of brands and customer base, strengthening our position as a leader in global fashion e-commerce.”

What people are saying

Andy Barr, retail expert and co-founder of online price tracking website www.alertr.co.uk, commented that although the deal only includes the brands and online businesses, not the physical stores, which unfortunately does mean more job losses and deserted high streets, this is just a further reflection of how digital is taking over.

“Lockdown or not, it’s a trend that retailers have to face up to,” said Barr. “The dominance of online shopping was already showing no signs of slowing down before the pandemic began, but the way consumers have had to adapt in these unprecedented times means that people who once never would’ve shopped online are now not only adept, but fully bought-in to the experience.

“The battle to rebuild the high street in the wake of COVID will not be an easy one. It will be interesting to see what will be left in the way of physical stores, as even ecommerce brands like Missguided that opened up its first physical store in London, have already had to shut permanently after just three years.

“The accessibility of online makes it an easier option for many and it seems the days of going out shopping for the day with friends or family will soon be long gone. Who knows, we might even see more virtual changing rooms that will bring that store vibe to online, or platforms that enable friends to browse together and chat whilst they do.”

Elliott Jacobs, EMEA commerce consulting director said that Boohoo will be able to make tough decisions the high street retailers could not, as putting potentially 12,000 jobs at risk is not something the Arcadia Group would have survived. He said: “Selling means hard decisions can be taken and brands may survive in some form.

“The pandemic has changed the face of retail forever – we’ll likely see more struggling household names join the list of companies snapped up, as online only retailers attempt to consolidate their market positions.”

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