Boohoo buys Debenhams brand but stores, jobs axed

Manchester-based online fashion giant Boohoo Group plc said on Monday it acquired the intellectual property assets and brand of Debenhams — as well as other business assets including its in-house brands and websites — for £55 million.

However, the deal with the Debenhams administrators FRP Advisory does not include any of the chain’s 124 stores or safeguard jobs.

Debenhams has been in administration since April and last month FRP said it was starting a liquidation process, putting 12,000 jobs at risk.

All Debenhams stores in the UK will close permanently as part of the sale, FRP Advisory said.

“I expect that the agreement with Boohoo may provide some job opportunities but we regret that this outcome does not safeguard the jobs of Debenhams’ employees beyond the winding down period,” said Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner of FRP Advisory.

Boohoo CEO John Lyttle said: “The acquisition of the Debenhams brand is an important development for the group, as we seek to capture incremental growth opportunities arising from the accelerating shift to online retail.

“We have developed a successful multi-brand direct-to-consumer platform that continues to disrupt the markets that we operate in.

“The acquisition represents an exciting strategic opportunity to transform our target addressable market through the creation of an online marketplace that leverages Debenhams’ high brand awareness and traffic through the development of beauty and fashion partnerships connecting brands with consumers.”

Boohoo 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.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.