Manchester based online clothing business Boohoo is set to acquire collapsed department store group Debenhams in a cut-price deal that will result in the closure of the group’s remaining department stores.
The purchase price is £55 with the group saying that it ‘intends to rebuild and relaunch the Debenhams platform, helping… to lead the fashion ecommerce market, and grow into new categories including beauty, sport and homeware.’
Boohoo will only be buying the group’s brand name and the website,a decision which will see the end of the department store and a bleak future for its employees
Administrators for Debenhams said in December it would be wound down, closing all its shops after 242 years in business and putting 12,000 jobs at risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Retail expert Dr Gordon Fletcher of the University of Salford Business School said:
“As the online fashion retailers begin to buy up the pieces of Debenhams and circle the failed Arcadia group’s iconic brands a very clear message is being broadcast. Brands are still important. Brands have credibility and reputation.
“Consumers have strong emotional connections with brands. However, the importance of the bricks and mortar traditionally associated with retail brands has now fully waned. This is not a new realisation that has only been discovered during the pandemic. However, the current lockdown situation has forced us to cut the final ties between our favourite brands and the physical high street.
“Bricks and mortar are important but after the lockdown the brands that we will see will be very different. These will be the brands that bring peak experience and engagement – maximising the value of face-to-face contact – and they will not be fashion retailers.”