Online retailer Boohoo has bought the Debenhams department store chain in a deal which will seal the closure of all of its 118 stores.
Thousands of jobs will be lost after Boohoo bought the Debenhams brand in a £55m deal.
The Manchester firm – which reported a massive surge in sales during the various local and national lockdowns last year – said the deal would allow it to create the “UK’s largest marketplace across fashion, beauty, sport and homeware”.
But the deal represents a massive blow to the UK High Street, and will leave many city and town centres with huge holes to fill.
With stores closing across the 242-year-old brand, it is unlikely many of the remaining 12,000 jobs are likely to be saved.
Debenhams had already announced significant job losses and the permanent closure of a number of stores, including its flagship outlet on London’s Oxford Street and its massive site a Gateshead’s Metrocentre.
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.”
The acquisition will allow Boohoo, which specialises in fashion for younger people, to add new customers, as well as moving into areas such as beauty, sport and homeware.
Debenhams’ own fashion brands will also be absorbed into Boohoo’s current portfolio and sold via the Debenhams website.
Boohoo will benefit from Debenhams’ data base of millions of shoppers, as well as partnerships with brands that Boohoo currently does not have.
The deal, which does not include Debenhams’ stock, will see the remaining Debenhams’ stores closed when the Government allows them to re-open from the current lockdown.
It has also been reported that fellow online retailer Asos is a front-runner to buy the Topshop brand in a similar move that would see no shops re-opening and the brand taken online entirely.