Asos buys Arcadia brands in deal that puts 2,500 jobs at risk

Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire/PA Images

Online fashion retailer Asos has acquired the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands from collapsed retail group Arcadia in a deal that risks the loss of 2,500 high street jobs.

Asos is paying £265m for the brands and £30m for the stock but is not taking on any of the 70 former Arcadia stores.

Although 2,500 retail worker roles will vanish, 300 head office staff roles will be maintained to help Asos with design, buying and retail partnerships.

Arcadia Group as a whole employed 13,000 staff and had 500 stores across the UK when it entered administration in November.

Asos chief executive Nick Beighton said: “The acquisition of these iconic British brands is a hugely exciting moment for Asos and our customers and will help accelerate our multi-brand platform strategy.

“We have been central to driving their recent growth online and, under our ownership, we will develop them further, using our design, marketing, technology and logistics expertise, and working closely with key strategic retail partners in the UK and around the world.”

He added that acquiring the brands would accelerate Asos’s mission to become “the number one destination for fashion-loving 20-somethings throughout the world”.

According to the Guardian, a report by Arcadia’s administrators Deloitte suggests former Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green and his family could receive £50m from the sale. Although the sale generates some £330m for the benefit of creditors it is thought that more than 1,000 suppliers and landlords to the fashion chain will get less than 1% of the money owed to them.

Among potential bidders beaten by Asos to the purchase was Chinese fashion retailer Shein and the Issa brothers, who in October announced they were buying Asda for £6.8bn.

Boohoo, which is in talks for some of Arcadia’s other brands, is also considered not to be interested in buying stores – leaving thousands more retail jobs at risk and hundreds of store closures.

Retail union Usdaw’s national officer, Dave Gill, called the Asos deal “another devastating blow for our high streets, coming only a week after the Debenhams brand was sold to Boohoo.

“Arcadia and their administrators have refused to engage with Usdaw and we urge them to reverse their anti-union stance.”

He added that the former Arcadia workers be treated with the “dignity and respect they deserve”.

Gill said that with 180,000 retail job losses and around 20,000 store closures in 2020 a “joined up strategy of unions, employers and government” was needed to develop a recovery plan, addressing issues such as rent, rates and taxation to create a level playing field between high streets and online retail.

Usdaw is promoting a Save our Shops campaign to strengthen high street stores’ position.

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