Online fashion giants in talks to snap up more crestfallen high street brands

Boohoo is locked in exclusive talks to buy parts of Sir Philip Green’s high street empire, as online fashion giants cap off a week of dominance over their brick-and-mortar peers.

A Dorothy Perkins Burton store on London's Oxford Street.

The online fashion brand confirmed that it was in discussions with administrators of Arcadia over the future of the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands.

A deal could see Boohoo buy the three, excluding the HIIT brand sold at Burton, although the board stressed that so far these are only talks and that no deal is guaranteed.

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Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Fresh from its shopping spree, snapping up the Debenhams brand and website, Boohoo is rifling through the bargain bins once more, this time at Arcadia. It’s entered into exclusive discussions to acquire the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands.

“Asos had turned its nose up at the trio of brands, only entering into exclusive talks to buy TopShop, TopMan, Miss Selfridge and the fitness brand HITT. It clearly feels those brands would most appeal to its young fashion base.

“But boohoo, a super-fast growing e-retailer which first began as a market stall, clearly believes there is still demand to be squeezed out of the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton businesses, which have been on the high street for around a century.”

On Monday, Boohoo said that it had agreed a £55 million deal to buy the brand and website of Debenhams, but will not take over the company’s high street shops, which look set to close.

At the same time, Asos, another big online fashion retailer, said it was in exclusive talks to buy other parts of Arcadia. Asos is interested in the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands.

The carve-up of Debenhams and Arcadia between Boohoo and Asos could see almost 1.4 million square metres of retail space, the equivalent of 194 Premier League football pitches, coming vacant and available to let according to the property adviser, Altus Group.

Arcadia employed some 13,000 people and ran hundreds of stores across the UK before it entered administration towards the end of last year. The pandemic and years of under-investment, as well as competition from online brands, ate into the business.

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Boohoo buy Debenhams brand and website for £55m – but high street stores to clos...

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