Dec 18, 2020
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Is Next talking to US investor on Arcadia bid?

Dec 18, 2020

Fast-growing retail giant Next is believed to be talking to a major US investment firm about a joint bid for failed group Arcadia.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

If it happened, it would see brands like Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins coming under the control of a business widely seen as being one of the best run fashion retail operations in Britain.

Next is very profitable and heavily committed to physical stores, even though around half of its business is sourced online.

Sky News reported that it’s in “detailed” talks with US-based Davidson Kempner Capital Management and the two are “likely, but not certain” to bid for Arcadia before a revised deadline of Monday. It also said Next has been speaking to other potential financing partners as well.

Other rival bidders for Arcadia are believed to include Mike Ashley's Frasers Group, American giant Authentic Brands and e-tailer Boohoo.

Taking over Arcadia would certainly be an ambitious move for Next but by partnering with an outside investor, it could reduce the capital the retailer would have to invest in the company.

Although Next operates its own stores and webstore, and owns brands like Lipsy, recent expansion deals have seen it taking an approach to growth that’s capital-light. It took on the licence for Victoria’s Secret UK stores, for instance, and also has the licence for Ted Baker’s kidswear and lingerie.

The big question is: how many Arcadia stores would Next want to run if it was successful?

One source told Sky News that Next chief Simon Wolfson “would be keen to keep a substantial number of Topshop outlets trading”, although it’s unclear how many Evans, Wallis, Miss Selfridge, Burton and Outfit branches might continue.

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