The prospect of Debenhams stores reopening on British high streets has now been quashed, after Boohoo have bought the brand and its website only. This means that Debenhams’ 118 high street stores and 12,000 staff will not be taken on by Boohoo.
The 242-year-old department store chain had been in administration since April 2020, but the last bidder withdrew in early December, leaving administrators to seek offers for the business in parts or as a whole.
The administrators, FRP Advisory said that they were looking for the ‘best outcome for Debenhams’ stakeholders’ after a ‘thorough and robust process’. On the Boohoo deal, they said:
‘This transaction will allow a new Debenhams-branded business to emerge under strong new ownership, including an online operation and the opportunity to secure an international franchise network that will operate under licence using the Debenhams name’
Boohoo adds Debenhams to their list of high street brands they have bought after they went into administration, including Oasis, Coast and Karen Millen. Like the Debenhams deal, Boohoo bought these brands but not their physical stores – 12,000 staff of the 118 stores will be lost in this process, as they will not be taken on by Boohoo.
The executive chairman of Boohoo, Mahmud Kamani, commented on the deal:
‘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 e-commerce, but in new categories including beauty, sport and homeware.’
For now, Debenhams’ website will continue to operate until the agreed period has elapsed, after which it is due to relaunch as part of Boohoo’s web platform. This is expected to happen later this year.