Bricks and mortar retail is set to take a following the sales of Debenhams and Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge to online-only retailers.
Online retailer boohoo has acquired all of the intellectual property assets, including customer data and related business information and selected contracts, of Debenhams Retail Limited from its joint administrators, for €62m (£55m).
Online fashion retailer Asos has acquired the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands from retail group Arcadia in a deal worth €334.6m (£295m), after Arcadia group fell into administration in November last year
John Lyttle, CEO of boohoo, called the acquisition of the Debenhams brand “an important development for the Group”, as it seeks to capture incremental growth opportunities arising from the accelerating shift to online retail.
Lyttle said: “We have developed a successful multi-brand direct-to-consumer platform that continues to disrupt the markets that we operate in. The acquisition represents an exciting strategic opportunity to transform our target addressable market through the creation of an online marketplace that leverages Debenhams’ high brand awareness and traffic through the development of beauty and fashion partnerships connecting brands with consumers.”
Mahmud Kamani, bohoo’s executive chairman, said its acquisition of the Debenhams brand: “Is strategically significant as it represents a huge step which accelerates our ambition to be a leader, not just in fashion eCommerce, but in new categories including beauty, sport and homeware.”
Nick Beighton, CEO of Asos said it was “extremely proud” to be the new owners of the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands, calling the acquisition of iconic British brands a “hugely exciting moment”
Beighton said: “We have been central to driving their recent growth online and, under our ownership, we will develop them further, using our design, marketing, technology and logistics expertise, and working closely with key strategic retail partners in the UK and around the world.”
Rick Harris, director of www.offeroftheday.co.uk, pointed out that neither agreement includes the physical bricks and mortar stores on the high street, meaning thousands are without jobs and there are more stores than ever set to be empty on Britain’s high street.
Harris said: “This move by ASOS was strategic in expanding the virtual high street that is the go-to shopping spot for many consumers, more so than ever with the ongoing pandemic leaving the UK in its third lockdown. This could potentially see Primark being the only clothing giant left with physical stores, with the retailer standing firm and refusing to move online, but that could well work in Primark’s favour.”
Andy Barr, retail expert and co-founder of online price tracking website www.alertr.co.uk, said the inevitable move from high street to online is being fast-tracked, and if it continue at this rate, we will not have any retail stores to return to once lockdown is over.
Barr said: “The high street has been on the decline for years, but I don’t think we expected to see so many of our favourite stores disappear for good so soon. It seems the future for a lot of people is uncertain, with thousands of job losses expected in the coming months. With the current trend of online retailers acquiring bricks-and-mortar stores without the bricks and mortar, there is going to be a massive gap on our high streets; hopefully this can be filled by something else, but I won’t hold my breath.”
Elliott Jacobs, EMEA commerce consulting director, said the Arcadia acquisitions show the redistribution of retail power, which now sits firmly with digitally native brands.
Jacobs said: “With Boohoo expected to pick up Arcadia’s remaining brands, it’s clear to all that digital is the key to retail. Digital natives are reaping the rewards of the agility that comes from digital investments. Both Asos and Boohoo are on their way to becoming eCommerce superpowers as they consolidate their positions in the new market.
“Only by investing in online capabilities will companies be able to adapt to, and predict market changes – companies that don’t make the right investments will not stand the test of time.”