British online fashion retailers Boohoo and Asos made major expansion moves on Monday, with the former buying the Debenhams brand and the latter in talks to buy the key brands of Philip Green's collapsed Arcadia group.
The moves underline how online players have gained the upper hand over traditional bricks-and-mortar clothing retailers, a trend accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Boohoo said it had acquired all of the intellectual property assets, including customer data, related business information and selected contracts of Debenhams from its administrators for £55 million (€61.9 million). All Debenhams stores in Britain will close permanently as part of the sale of its brand and website to Boohoo, its administrators said on Monday, putting 12,000 jobs at risk.
"I expect that the agreement with Boohoo may provide some job opportunities but we regret that this outcome does not safeguard the jobs of Debenhams employees beyond the winding-down period," said Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner of FRP Advisory.
Meanwhile, Asos said it was in exclusive talks with the administrators of Green’s collapsed Arcadia group over the acquisition of the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands.
“The board believes this would represent a compelling opportunity to acquire strong brands that resonate well with its customer base,” Asos said, adding that any deal would be funded from cash reserves. However, it cautioned there was no certainty a deal will be sealed. Arcadia collapsed into administration in November, putting more than 13,000 jobs at risk. – Reuters