Online retailer and cosmetics maker Asos has revealed it is in exclusive talks with Arcadia to buy out its Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands.
Asos, led by Chief Executive Nick Beighton, broke its cover as the frontrunner for the crown jewels of Sir Philip Green’s retail empire following Next’s decision to back out of the race last week, citing too high a price from administrators at Deloitte.
The online retailer, which has stocked products from Topshop since 2019, in a press statement described the opportunity as “compelling” and said that the brands would “resonate well with its customer base”.
Reports have circulated that Asos has bid more than £250m for Topshop alone.
However, the plans could see all of the chain’s stores close, sparking fresh fears of job security if Asos wins the auction.
But competition is still stiff among rivals. Authentic Brands (which is bidding in partnership with JD Sports) and G-III Apparel are still in the race, while Chinese fast fashion giant Shein is rumoured to have offered more than £300m for Topshop. However, the retailer’s position in the auction is unclear.
Deloitte called time on bidding for assets of the retail tycoon’s bust empire a week ago but no decision has been made regarding the new owner of the dynasty.
The acquisition would be a change of tack for Asos, which has had little experience of takeovers throughout its 21-year history.
Like many online retailers, Asos has been a winner of the pandemic with sales up almost a quarter over the festive shopping period.
Meanwhile, in October, the seller, whose portfolio includes beauty, reported a surge in profits (329%) due to demand for cosmetics and activewear during Covid-19 lockdowns earlier in the year.
The British group’s active consumer base has grown to more than 24 million for the four months ended 31 December.
The announcement comes the same day that British fast fashion retailer Boohoo secured the assets for Debenhams’ operations.
Despite having a new owner, Mahmud Kamai and Carol Kane’s business will shutter all of Debenhams high street outlets, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
The cash buy set Boohoo back £55m, seeing off competition from Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group and Authentic Brands.
Topshop declined to comment on the potential sale.