Online fashion retailer Boohoo’s agreement to buy the 242-year-old Debenhams brand and website for £55 million Will see the eponymous department store name survive, but the company’s remaining 118 stores close for good.
That will include its branch in the Bridges in Sunderland, Eldon Square in Newcastle and Newport Road in Middlesbrough, with it unlikely many of the 12,000 jobs across the company will be saved.
The deal will see Debenhams products sold by Boohoo from early next year, allowing enough time for liquidators to continue closing the retailer’s sites once they are allowed to reopen after Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.
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Boohoo said the deal represents a “fantastic opportunity” to target new customers and launch into the beauty, sports and homewares market for the first time.
The company highlighted how Debenhams has six million beauty shoppers and 1.4 million Beauty Club members.
In hints that it intends to take on the might of Amazon, Boohoo said it would create the UK’s largest marketplace across fashion, beauty, sport and homeware – expanding the range of products sold via Debenhams marketplace by maintaining current third party relationships and expanding further.
Debenhams’ own fashion brands will also be absorbed into Boohoo’s current portfolio and sold via the Debenhams website.
Boohoo has previously bought a number of well-known high street brands out of administration, turning them into online-only operations, including Oasis, Coast and Karen Millen.
Meanwhile online fashion giant Asos has confirmed media reports that it is in exclusive talks with the administrators of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia over the acquisition of the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands.
In a short statement to the stock exchange, Asos said it “believes this would represent a compelling opportunity to acquire strong brands that resonate well with its customer base”.
“However, at this stage, there can be no certainty of a transaction and Asos will keep shareholders updated as appropriate.
"Any acquisition would be funded from cash reserves,” it added.