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Boohoo swoops again as snaps up High Street brands

Celebrities posing in front of a Boohoo signImage copyright
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Online fashion retailer Boohoo has agreed to buy the online businesses of Oasis and Warehouse for £5.25m.

Oasis and Warehouse collapsed into administration in April with the loss of about 1,800 jobs.

The brand and stock were bought by Hilco Capital, which has now sold them on to Boohoo.

But no buyer for the High Street stores could be found, as the coronavirus lockdown accelerates the shift of shoppers online.

The brands were forced to shut their 90 UK stores in March because of the coronavirus lockdown, although the previous owner had been in talks to sell the businesses before the crisis.

Online shoppers have also been unable to place orders with the fashion chains for a number of weeks.

Image caption

Oasis and Warehouse customers have not been able to place orders online for a number of weeks

High Street retailers in the UK were facing a tough environment before the crisis, due to rising costs and changes in people’s shopping habits.

But the temporary closure of many shops, which have since reopened in England and Northern Ireland, heaped more pressure on retailers.

The group also had 437 concessions in department stores including Debenhams and Selfridges.

Fashion forward

Manchester-based Boohoo has been snapping up struggling brands in recent years, and Oasis and Warehouse join MissPap, Karen Millen and Coast in the company’s label stable.

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “It’s up to Boohoo to rejuvenate them and hope they resonate well with its traditionally younger, more fashion forward customer base.

“It’s a similar move to the Karen Millen and Coast acquisitions, but while we’ve heard trading’s going well with these additions, we haven’t had any numbers to crunch, so it’s hard to say what the big picture looks like.”

In 2017, Boohoo also bought the brand Nasty Gal’s assets for $20m (£15m). It was founded by US businesswoman Sophia Amoruso who is widely credited with popularising the term “girl boss”.

Boohoo, founded in 2006, sells fashion, beauty and products and shoes aimed at 16 to 24-year-olds.

The brand is popular with young women in particular, who it targets with marketing campaigns using Instagram influencers and Love Island contestants.

According to research by polling firm YouGov in May, 11% of 18 to 24-year-olds had purchased something from Boohoo for themselves in the previous three months.

Separately, Boohoo predicted “another year of strong profitable growth” which would outdo analysts’ expectations.

It said on Wednesday that the sales of loungewear and “athleisure” had done well during lockdown.

John Moore, senior investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said: “Boohoo continues to deliver strong results, regardless of the challenges placed in front of it, which highlights the company’s flexibility and entrepreneurial drive.

“With excess cash on its balance sheet, you wouldn’t rule out further additions in the months ahead as less resilient names struggle in the current retail climate.”

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