Asos confirms Topshop, Miss Selfridge talks, are Asda owners also in the race?
It said it “believes this would represent a compelling opportunity to acquire strong brands that resonate well with its customer base”. But it added that “at this stage, there can be no certainty of a transaction and Asos will keep shareholders updated as appropriate”.
The statement came after speculation at the weekend that it was not only interested in buying the labels but that it was the front-runner to do so.
The likelihood of rival Boohoo buying them could possibly have receded with that company now fully focused on merging its just-announced Debenhams buy into its fast-expanding set-up.
Asos would certainly be seen as a Topshop owner that could help get that brand back into the fashion limelight, but as an online pureplay, Asos wouldn’t be buying any of the stores and that would mean thousands of job losses.
It’s been reported that the company has bid around £300 million for the brands. Yet Asos isn’t alone in the race. Next may have dropped out, but China’s Shein is also said to be interested, as is US-based Authentic Brands.
And new Asda owners, the Issa brothers, have emerged as potential bidders too. That would be an interesting move and could mean a big fashion expansion for Asda beyond its existing George label.
Asos was reportedly keen to buy Topshop from the start of the auction process although its involvement seems to have gone largely under the radar until now.
But a Topshop move would make sense as it’s already a huge Asos wholesale partner and the prospect of it being bought by a rival such as Shein would be a problem. Unlike Boohoo, Asos hasn’t been active on acquisitions in the past and this would be its first such move.
But we can't assume anything is certain just yet. As Boohoo's Debenhams buy on Monday has shown, situations can change suddenly and those expected to win auctions don't always come out ahead.
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