Jan 13, 2021
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JD Sports 'links with' Authentic Brands on Topshop bid

Jan 13, 2021

JD Sports is reportedly linking up with Authentic Brands Group (ABG) to try to buy Topshop, the leading brand in the portfolio of failed fashion retail giant Arcadia.


A report late on Wednesday said that the UK sports retailer and the American owner of Barneys are in talks about joining forces on a joint bid.

That's according to sky News, which said that discussions are at an early stage. 

It's certainly an interesting prospect with ABG also owning fast fashion retailer Forever 21 and with JD Sports being one of the most respected retailers in the UK.

But they have plenty of competition for the prize with Next expected to bid for all of Arcadia in conjunction with an American investment firm, while Boohoo Group is also said to on the list of likely leading contenders for Topshop and perhaps other brands. Frasers Group could also be in the frame as a potential buyer. Final offers are due within a few days.

The report also said that JD hadn't been interested in making a bid on its own for any of Arcadia's brands, despite the fact that it has been on the acquisition trail in recent periods. As well as a number of brands that it has actually succeeded in buying, the company even considered taking on Debenhams before walking away. Sky News said JD chairman Peter Cowgill has a good working relationship with ABG and its chairman, Jamie Salter.

JD Sports has declined to comment but analysts have said a JD-ABG partnership “could give Topshop the best chance of revival”.

Emily Salter, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Topshop is the most lucrative brand up for sale in Sir Philip Green’s former retail empire, but it needs significant investment and a refreshed strategy to turn it around to emulate its heyday when teenagers flocked to the brand as it set the latest trends. JD Sports in combination with Authentic Brands, would have the best chance of doing so.

“JD Sports has proven its agility and ability to target young shoppers, reporting stellar revenue growth in the 22 weeks to 2 January, despite more temporary store closures. Additionally, it is a digital leader, expertise from which Topshop would benefit from as it will no doubt have suffered in 2020 from being an online laggard.”

And she thinks JD would do better at reviving Topshop than Next would. 

“[While] Next has a leading digital proposition, its slightly older customer base means it may struggle to reinstate Topshop’s front-of-mind appeal among Gen Z and millennials,” she said. 

She also thinks that a JD-ABG bid would be the best news for physical retail “Though it is unclear whether this potential bid would include any stores, it is more likely to do so than an acquisition by the Boohoo Group, and though Topshop’s store estate is far too big, especially given the impacts of Covid-19, the brand would be sorely missed if it was to vanish from high streets altogether,” she explained.

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