Next, until recently thought to have been the favourite to acquire Topshop from Arcadia’s administrators, has pulled out of the race to buy it, saying it could not meet the asking price.
The high street giant was tabling a joint bid with US investor Davidson Kempner in a deal that would have resulted in Next taking a minority stake in Topshop and running it on behalf of the investor.
However in a statement it said: “Next plc announces that it has withdrawn from the process to acquire any, or all, of the Arcadia Group from the administrator, as our consortium has been unable to meet the price expectations of the vendor.
“Next was bidding as part of a joint venture with Davidson Kempner. Next wishes the administrator and future owners well in their endeavours to preserve an important part of the UK retail sector.”
The two front-runners to land Topshop are now Authentic Brands, who are tabling a joint bid with JD Sports, and Chinese fashion group Shein. Both international groups are said to be keen to use Topshop as a launchpad into the UK market and are said to have pushed the asking price up to between £250m and £300m. Administrator Deloitte was believed to have placed an original price tag of £200m on the chain, which is the jewel in the crown of Sir Philip Green’s collapsed empire.
Authentic is also said to be interested in the Miss Selfridge brand is looking to fashion a deal with JD Sports whereby the UK high street group would run Topshop and Miss Selfridge stores in the UK under license.
Manchester-based fast fashion group Boohoo was an early favourite to buy the Topshop brand but is now thought to be an outside bet. ASOS is also said to have been circling.
Others said to be in the mix include Marks & Spencer and Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, which could pick up some of the remaining Arcadia brands, such as Wallis, Burton and Dorothy Perkins. Plus size brand Evans was bought before Christmas by Australia’s City Chic Collective but it did not take any of its stores.
Arcadia collapsed into administration at the end of November having failed to secure emergency funding to keep it afloat during the pandemic.