British retail moves further online while Boohoo buys Debenhams

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A £55m takeover of department store Debenhams by online retailer Boohoo, and the fashion company Asos are in exclusive talks to takeover TopShop, will have major implications for the appearance of British high streets.

Two of Britain s biggest online retailers, Boohoo and Asos, have opted to purchase brands from collapsed high street giants, highlighting how the pandemic has caused dramatic changes in retail.

Greg Lawless, retail analyst at Shore Capital, says: "The big question in beauty is whether the big beauty brands – Clinique and Channel – will remain with Boohoo longer term.

It remains to be seen what the takeover's effect will be on Debenhams relationships with a wide variety of brands.

Topshop and other Arcadia brands have also found themselves targeted by retailers such as Next, but unprofitable leases have proven to be an obstacle for would-be suitor to obtain cheaper deals, meaning online-only sales were more lucrative.

The pandemic has resulted in a series of administrative and restructuring measures at retailers, and it has resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs.

Experts also emphasized that a plunge in retail real estate valuations after the pandemic might provide opportunity for innovation.

The shift from some high street companies to online retailers is largely being more recent.