Online fashion retailer Boohoo could be about to make its second raid on the UK high street after confirming it is hoping to buy part of Sir Philip Green’s failed Arcadia Group.
The Manchester company, which this week bought the Debenhams brand in a £55m deal that will see all of its stores closed, has said that it is in exclusive talks with Arcadia’s administrators on a deal to buy the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands.
In a statement to the Stock Exchange, Boohoo said that “these discussions may or may not result in agreement of a transaction”.
The potential deal comes as the rise of online retail has been accelerated by the pandemic.
Monday’s acquisition of Debenhams gave Boohoo access to its customer database, as well as sectors in which it has not previously been strong, such as beauty, sport and homeware.
If successful, a deal for the three Arcadia brands would also widen Boohoo’s appeal to older customers.
The deal would almost certainly mean further closures on the high street, however, and thousands of job losses.
Rival online retailer Asos confirmed this week that it was in talks with Arcadia’s administrators to buy Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and the HIIT brand which is sold in Burton., with that transaction also seeing the brand shut its physical stores and go online only.
Reports this week said that the Arcadia group went into administration with debts of £750m.
The company went into insolvency in Decembr after becoming the latest high street firm battered by the pandemic, putting 13,000 jobs at risk.
The wider problems of the retail sector have been shown by new figures which show that more shops are closing permanently in the face of coronavirus restrictions.
The latest BRC-LDC vacancy monitor revealed that 13.7% of all shops were empty during the quarter to the end of December.
Shopping centres saw a particular surge in shuttered stores, as the vacancy rate jumped to 17.1% from 16.3% in the third quarter. High street vacancies increased to 13.7% from 13.3% in the previous period, though retail parks were more resilient.