Boohoo Ready to Pluck Topshop Sister Brands from Defunct Arcadia Group

LONDON – Boohoo has money to spend, and isn’t wasting any time: On Friday, just days after inking a deal to buy Debenhams, the online retailer confirmed it is in “exclusive discussions” to buy three brands belonging to the bankrupt Arcadia Group.

Boohoo said it’s in advanced talks with the administrators of Arcadia over the acquisition of the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands, although the discussions may or may not result in a transaction.

Rival online retailer Asos confirmed earlier this week that it was in exclusive negotiations to buy Arcadia’s three flagship brands, Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge.

Boohoo, which was responding to a Sky News report estimating that it could pay around 25 million pounds for the three Arcadia brands, said a further announcement will be made “when appropriate.”

Earlier this week, Boohoo acquired all of the intellectual property assets of Debenhams from its joint administrators, for 55 million pounds in cash.

The company’s rationale for the purchase was Debenhams’ “high brand awareness,” and an online platform with approximately 300 million U.K. website visits per annum, making it a top 10 retail website in the U.K. by traffic.

In a flash note on Friday, Jefferies said that while Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton “are not viewed (or priced) as the ‘jewels in the Arcadia crown’, they are well-known brands,” with combined revenues of 580 million pounds in the year to Sept. 18, 2020.

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“These acquisitions would be very much consistent with Boohoo’s successful approach to date, and we would view the brands as a good fit within the group, particularly given the recent Debenhams deal, through which all three traded,” said the bank.

Dorothy Perkins and Wallis are mass market women’s wear brands, while Burton is a men’s wear brand. As reported in December, Arcadia’s administrators sold off the group’s plus-size brand Evans to Australia’s City Chic for 23 million pounds.

Arcadia had been Debenhams’ top concession partner, and its brands had filled the department store’s floors for decades. Their relationship was so tight that the already-ailing Debenhams collapsed the day after Arcadia filed for bankruptcy.

Following the Debenhams deal, Bernstein analysts speculated there were more mergers and acquisitions to come from Boohoo, which has been working to clean up its manufacturing and supply chain after a sweatshop scandal last summer.

The bank noted that with a “robust” 300 million pounds-plus cash position even after the Debenhams deal, “Boohoo is well placed to make further strategic M&A investments funded by cash, even beyond the 140 million pounds remaining of the equity raise from last year.”

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