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Next reported to be the frontrunner to acquire Topshop

Lauretta Roberts
18 January 2021

British high street giant Next is reported to be the frontrunner to acquire Topshop, the jewel in the crown of Sir Philip Green's collapsed fashion retail empire.

Bids are due in the for the remaining Arcadia brands today and, according to The Sunday Times, Next's joint bid with US investor Davidson Kempner is the favourite to the land Topshop, which is said to be carrying a price tag of £200m.

It is understood that under the terms of Next/Davidson Kempner deal that Next would take a minority stake in Topshop and run it on behalf of Davidson Kempner on its "Total Retail" platform. Next could be interested in taking some of the smaller Arcadia brands, which include Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton, to sell on its multibrand online platform.

Next has been expanding its third-party brand offer during the pandemic securing a joint-venture deal to run the UK arm of US lingerie brand Victoria's Secret and a partnership deal to sell the Laura Ashley Home brand.

Another joint bid for Topshop is said to be on the cards with US group Authentic Brands in partnership with JD Sports, under which the UK sports group would run Topshop under license.

Manchester-based online fashion group Boohoo was an early favourite to land Topshop in a deal that was unlikely to include any of its stores. However, despite being said to be Sir Philip Green's preferred bidder, it is now thought to be an outside bet.

Mike Ashley's Frasers Group, which remains in negotiations with liquidators at Debenhams over a purchase of some of the stricken department store, is also in the race but could be interested in picking up some of the lesser brands, if Topshop went elsewhere, to populate any Debenhams stores they may buy.

Marks & Spencer, which last week acquired the Jaeger brand (but no stores) from the troubled Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, is also said to be in the mix.

Arcadia fell into administration at the end of November 2020 having failed to secure emergency funding to see it through the pandemic. Its demise triggered Debenhams, which had been in administration since the start of the pandemic, to begin liquidation proceedings as Arcadia had been its largest concessionaire.

JD Sports had also been interested in acquiring Debenhams but had walked away when Arcadia collapsed.

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