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ASOS confirms exclusive talks to acquire Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge

Lauretta Roberts
25 January 2021

Online fashion giant ASOS has confirmed this morning that it has entered into exclusive talks with the administrators of Arcadia to acquire the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands.

The London-based group was cited as a favourite to win the race to acquire the most coveted brands from the Arcadia empire on Friday, having kept under the radar since the brands came onto the market in late November when Sir Philip Green's retail group called in the administrators.

Reports suggest that ASOS bid more than £250m for Topshop, which had carried an initial price tag of £200m. It has held off competition from the likes of Authentic Brands in partnership with JD Sports, Next in partnership with Davidson Kempner (which last week exited the race having baulked at the price tag), Boohoo, Chinese chain Shein and Frasers Group. However the deal has yet to be sealed.

In a statement to the Stock Market this morning, ASOS said it was "in exclusive discussions with the administrators of Arcadia over the acquisition of the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands. The Board believes this would represent a compelling opportunity to acquire strong brands that resonate well with its customer base.

"However, at this stage, there can be no certainty of a transaction and ASOS will keep shareholders updated as appropriate. Any acquisition would be funded from cash reserves."

ASOS began selling the Topshop and Topman brands on its site in autumn 2019 and from a customer profile perspective it is seen as the best fit for the young fashion brands from Arcadia. However any deal is highly unlikely to include Topshop's retail stores. Arcadia employed around 13,000 people and has 444 UK stores

However Topshop and Topman's flagship store at 214 Oxford Street is being marketed separately from the brand and industry watchers believe that ASOS may seek to retain that one store, given its importance to the Topshop brand.

Shortly before Christmas, administrators at Deloitte sold Arcadia's plus size brand Evans to Australia's City Chic Collective for £23m. That deal did not include retail stores.

This leaves Wallis, Burton and Dorothy Perkins still looking for new homes. Speculation had suggested that Frasers Group might be interested in the lesser brands if it secured a deal to save any of the Debenhams department store chain, but this morning the surprise news was announced that another online fashion giant, Boohoo, has secured the Debenhams brand name and website for £55m. All 118 of the historic department store's retail sites will now close once the stock from stores has been liquidated.

Marks & Spencer and Tesco have also been cited as potential purchasers of some of the Arcadia brands, with M&S having recently acquired the Jaeger brand, and Tesco running a number of Dorothy Perkins concessions.

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