INSIDE THE DEAL
Boohoo bags Debenhams and Arcadia Group brands
François Locoh-Donou, president and CEO of F5. Credit: F5
UK based fast fashion retailer Boohoo Group has been on a spending spree this year. In January it added the Debenhams brand and website to its portfolio for GBP55m (US$75.2m) – but not the stores. And in February it swooped on the Dorothy Perkins, Burton and Wallis brands from retail giant Arcadia Group in a GBP25.2m (US$34.5m) deal. Here’s what GlobalData analysts have to say about the moves.
Debenhams deal proves the speed of change in retail
In a surprising turn of events that proves the speed of the significant changes that the retail sector is undergoing, the Boohoo Group has acquired the intellectual property assets of Debenhams, raising the question of the relevance of traditional department stores in a post-pandemic environment.
The group will relaunch Debenhams’ website as an online marketplace, with its expertise at operating digital pureplays providing some hope that the retailer’s fortunes could be turned around, benefitting from the shift to online shopping.
However, there is strong competition from other online marketplaces, not least from leading force Amazon, but also from the likes of Next and Asos, so the Boohoo Group will have to develop a more compelling branded offer for Debenhams for it to succeed.
The acquisition of Debenhams also provides the group with a chance to expand its empire into new categories such as beauty, sports and homewares, likely translating into the launch of branded products in these sectors on its existing websites such as boohoo.com and PrettyLittleThing, helping them stand out in the crowded fast fashion market.
Tired Arcadia brands need attention to thrive
The GBP25.2m acquisition of Dorothy Perkins, Burton and Wallis completes the transition of Philip Green’s former high street empire solely to the online channel in a move that has been facilitated by Covid-19 and will significantly change the face of UK physical retail.
Along with the Boohoo Group’s acquisition of Debenhams, this will diversify its range of brands, with these Arcadia brands a natural fit for Debenhams as an online marketplace. However, with so much already on the Boohoo Group’s plate, it must ensure they receive the revamp they desperately need instead of letting them fall by the wayside.
Burton will give the Boohoo Group the opportunity to grow share in the menswear market, with its wider customer base providing it with a stronger path to potential growth than boohooMAN. However, Burton’s heavy focus on formalwear has been rendered redundant throughout the pandemic, with demand unlikely to fully return as working from home continues, so its product focus will need to be refreshed.
Wallis’s core customer is females over 45, a demographic that the Boohoo Group has little experience of targeting and will be less receptive towards the group’s usual strategy of heavy discounting and social media-led marketing.
Dorothy Perkins will be a better fit with the group’s current stable of brands, with a similar shopper base to Oasis and Warehouse. However the group will need to establish a unique selling point for Dorothy Perkins to create differentiation between the brands.
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