Boohoo buys Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton but 2,450 jobs lost

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Online fashion retailer Boohoo has bought the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands from failed retail group Arcadia for £25.2m

The deal includes the brands and online businesses, but not the 214 shops nor 2,450 workers employed in them.

It completes the sell-off of Sir Philip Green's once mighty Arcadia group which fell into administration last year.

Last week, rival Asos bought Arcadia's other leading brands, Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT.

The Arcadia businesses employed 13,000, a fraction of which will carry on into employment with the new owners.

Administrators Deloitte, which has been conducting the sales, said around 2,450 staff would lose their jobs as a result of the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton sale, and the stores would permanently close.

Deloitte said staff had been emailed on Monday and would informed over the course of the day.

Approximately 260 jobs will be moving with the brands to Boohoo, mainly head office functions such as brand design, buying and merchandising, and the digital part of the business.

Last month, Boohoo bought the Debenhams brand and website for £55m.

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Boohoo said the brands it had bought from Arcadia had two million active customers last year, and added that the deal would give it a significant opportunity to boost its share of the market across a broader group of customers.

It also said that buying Burton would improve its range of menswear.

"Acquiring these well-known brands in British fashion out of administration ensures their heritage is sustained, while our investment aims to transform them into brands that are fit for the current market environment," said chief executive John Lyttle.

"We have a successful track record of integrating British heritage fashion brands onto our proven multi-brand platform, and we are looking forward to bringing these brands on board."

The debate around the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has shifted subtly in recent weeks from the size and speed of the bounce back to its nature. What parts of pre-pandemic life will return, and which, given the virus is mutating quickly and may turn out to be a long-lasting threat, are gone forever?

The debate is already closed in one part of retail, clothing sales. The pandemic has accounted for several big High Street names, and this morning Boohoo bought three more stalwarts - Dorothy Perkins, Burton and Wallis.

The names will live on online, but their 214 UK shops will close, with about 2,450 staff losing their jobs. Hundreds more stores that were under the other Arcadia brands - notably Topshop - will also close after the brands were bought by another online player Asos. And Boohoo has already bought the Debenhams name, meaning 125 of its stores will close from next month.

This leaves a big hole on British high streets, one that will take a long time to be filled. Councils must now think how they can revitalise their high streets. Should they stick to Plan A and try and lure more retailers to fill the vacant shops, or be more radical, and use this sudden shift in the market as a catalyst for wholesale reinvention?

In Stockton-on-Tees a 1970s shopping centre will be bulldozed next year to make way for a park. It may not be the last one to bite the dust.

Boohoo has bought a number of other leading High Street names in the past two years, buying the online businesses of Oasis and Warehouse for £5.25m last year.

That added to its portfolio, which included the Karen Millen and Coast brands, which it bought from administrators in 2019.

Susannah Streeter, markets analyst at stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown, said the sale of the final assets of the former Arcadia empire gave Boohoo the parts with which to build its own: "This purchase is part of a grand master plan by Boohoo to become the UK's largest retail marketplace and propel its international expansion.

"As Boohoo expands, the final bricks of Sir Philip Green's retail empire have been dislodged. Boohoo and Asos, dismissed as digital upstarts a decade ago are now the great disruptors in fashion, reaching the top branches of the retail tree.''

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