Boohoo buys Debenhams brand and website for £55M

Boohoo has bought the Debenhams brand and website for £55m.

However, the fast fashion retailer will not be taking on any of the company’s remaining 118 High Street stores or its workforce.

Boohoo said it was a “transformational deal” and a “huge step”.

The 242-year-old Debenhams chain is already in the process of closing down, after administrators failed to secure a rescue deal for the business, with the likely loss of 12,000 jobs.

A closing down sale at 124 Debenhams stores began in December, as administrators continued to seek offers for all, or parts of the business.

The company announced recently that six shops would not reopen after lockdown, including its flagship department store on London’s Oxford Street.

Boohoo has already bought a number of High Street brands out of administration. It snapped up Oasis, Coast and Karen Millen, but not the associated stores.

Its executive chairman, Mahmud Kamani, said: “This is a transformational deal for the group, which allows us to capture the fantastic opportunity as ecommerce continues to grow. Our ambition is to create the UK’s largest marketplace.

“Our acquisition of the Debenhams brand is strategically significant as it represents a huge step which accelerates our ambition to be a leader, not just in fashion ecommerce, but in new categories including beauty, sport and homeware.”

Boohoo said Debenhams was expected to relaunch on Boohoo’s web platform in early 2022.

In the meantime, Debenhams will continue to operate its website for an agreed period.

Boohoo said its plans included “transforming Debenhams through the development of an exciting online marketplace, capitalising on the sector’s structural shift to online”.

It added that it intended to expand Debenhams’ product categories and its supplier partnerships.

Boohoo said it was funding the deal from its existing cash reserves.

“The group will only be acquiring the brands and associated intellectual property rights – the transaction does not include Debenhams’ retail stores, stock or any financial services,” Boohoo added.

Debenhams has struggled for years with falling profits and rising debts, as more shopping has moved online. It called in administrators twice in two years, most recently in April.

However, its position became untenable during the coronavirus pandemic as non-essential retailers were forced to close for prolonged periods.

The firm had already trimmed its store portfolio and cut about 6,500 jobs since May, as it struggled to stay afloat.

Businessman Mike Ashley, who founded Sports Direct and also owns House of Fraser, had already made an offer for Debenhams after it was initially put up for sale in April.

However the takeover offer, thought to be in the region of £125m, was rejected as being too low.

– BBC

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