Jan 29, 2021
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Boohoo confirms Arcadia talks as its diversification continues

Jan 29, 2021

A very short statement from Boohoo Group on Friday confirmed that yes, it is interested in buying the remaining brands owned by failed Arcadia, a move that means the entire Arcadia empire going online-only.


It said in a stock exchange filing that it “notes recent media commentary. The group confirms that it is in exclusive discussions with the administrators of Arcadia over the acquisition of the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton (excluding HIIT) brands. These discussions may or may not result in agreement of a transaction. A further announcement will be made when appropriate”.

It means that apart from the already-sold Evans label and the Outfit chain that’s being shut down, exclusive talks for the entire Arcadia portfolio are currently being conducted by either Boohoo or ASOS. 

For ASOS, the purchase of Topshop/Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT would cement the presence of a key wholesale partner on the site and also strengthen the company’s hold on the 20-something consumer.

But for Boohoo, buying the three brands it’s interested in would be just the latest step in a journey of diversification that has seen it widening its reach.

Buying Debenhams has put it in front of a much wider age range and exposed it in a big way to the beauty and homewares markets. 

Meanwhile Burton would expand its menswear focus and add in more formal tailoring. Dorthy Perkins and Wallis also target consumers beyond the youth market and it’s interesting that Boohoo sees some value in the Wallis brand as that was one analysts thought the administrators might struggle to sell.

They would join brands such as Karen Millen and Oasis that also take in different consumer groups from what was once Boohoo’s core market.

But if it does buy the three brands, it’s clear that it has work to do. Chloe Collins, Senior Apparel Analyst at GlobalData said: “With so much already on the Boohoo group’s plate, it may struggle to give these tired brands the revamp they desperately need to thrive in an oversaturated market.

“While Burton would provide Boohoo with opportunity to grow share in the menswear market, as its boohooMAN own-brand is constantly overshadowed by its female counterpart, Burton’s heavy focus on suiting and formalwear has been rendered redundant throughout the pandemic, with demand unlikely to return fully as businesses adopt a long-term switch towards more home working. 

“Wallis also has a strong formalwear presence, and its customers are mainly women over 45, which Boohoo has little experience of targeting as its current brands focus on a much younger demographic. These older shoppers are also less accustomed to shopping online, limiting the potential of such an acquisition as any Boohoo deal will not include stores. 

“Dorothy Perkins would fit much better with Boohoo’s current proposition, as it has a similar shopper base as Oasis and Warehouse, which the group acquired last June, however it would need to establish a unique selling point for Dorothy Perkins to create differentiation between the brands.”

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