Online fashion group Asos has partnered with US retailer Nordstrom in a joint venture that will see Topshop clothes sold in physical stores again for the first time since the brand collapsed last year.
The deal sees Nordstrom, which first struck a deal with the former Arcadia brand nine years ago, buy a minority stake in the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands that were bought out of administration by Asos earlier this year. No financial terms were disclosed.
Asos said: “The joint-venture will help drive the growth of these brands and paves the way for exploration of a new wider strategic partnership aimed at building greater awareness and engagement in the US and Canadian market.”
It is the first time Asos, which sells fashion aimed at 20-somethings, has struck a deal with a retailer with physical stores, having always only traded online in the past.
Nordstrom has 350 bricks-and-mortar stores in North America and a strong online business, which Asos hopes to tap into, despite having a strong internet presence of its own in the region.
Asos will retain operational and creative control but will collaborate on reaching a larger customer base. This includes “an edit of the best Asos brands launching across Nordstrom.com and in selected high-impact Nordstrom stores”.
Asos will also offer click and collect services in Nordstrom stores.
The move is a significant one for Asos and comes five months after it bought the brands from administrators for Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia empire for £330 million.
But while the retailer bought the brands, it decided not to take on the 70 stores, including the flagship site at London’s Oxford Circus, affecting around 2,500 workers.
Asos boss Nick Beighton said: "With its long-established connection to Topshop, extensive US consumer insight and unparalleled reach right across North America, Nordstrom is the right partner to help Asos accelerate the growth of our Topshop and Asos brands in this key market.
Nordstrom president and chief brand officer Pete Nordstrom said: “We could not have found a better partner in Asos, the world leader in fashion for the 20-something customer.”
The deal will help Nordstrom improve its assortment and services for millennials and a growing cohort of Generation Z shoppers, he said in an interview.
“There’s a big opportunity for us to be more meaningful to 20-something customers and to young customers,” Mr Nordstrom. It also makes sense, after a year of retail dislocation, to strike a deal with an online-only fashion company like Asos, he said.
“Particularly with the pandemic, what we thought was going to happen with the online business over time ended up happening very quickly because stores were shut down,”
Topshop and Nordstrom first teamed up in 2012, with the brand selling a range of clothes in the retailer's US stores. It was part of the UK fashion brand's first foray into the United States and eventually led to several Topshop stores in US cities. – PA/New York Times