Asos has emerged at the head of the race to acquire Topshop from the administrators of Sir Philip Green’s retail empire, although the new owners of Asda are also among those interested in the brand.
The online fast-fashion retailer is understood to have proposed acquiring Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge for about £300 million, but is not interested in its stores. It raises the prospect of job losses for staff at Topshop and Topman, which between them have about 150 stores.
Deloitte was appointed the administrator of Arcadia in November in a collapse that has put 13,000 jobs at risk. It capped the downfall of Sir Philip, 68, who was once dubbed the “king of the high street”.
Asos is understood to have been looking at Topshop since the process started. The company is interested as Topshop is its largest wholesale partner and it is reluctant for the business to end up the hands of a competitor such as Shein, the Chinese fast-fashion online store, which also has shown interest.
If Asos were to pull off the purchase, which was first reported by Sky News over the weekend, it would be the first fashion brand acquisition that it has completed.
Rival bidders include the Issa brothers and TDR Capital, the private equity firm. The pair are in the process of buying Asda and would look to put Topshop into the grocery chain.
Others interested in Arcadia brands include Authentic Brands, the New York-based brand management group, which has teamed up with JD Sports. It would be Authentic’s first foray into Britain. Boohoo, another listed online fashion retailer, also has been linked with a bid.
The Financial Times reported last night that Boohoo was also close to securing a deal to buy the Debenhams brand. The deal is likely to lead to the closure of the company’s remaining department stores.
The Arcadia sale is complicated by prospective purchasers being interested in various brands, particularly Topshop, rather than the combined stable. Arcadia’s brands also include Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis.
Next pulled out of the race last week saying that it was “unable” to meet price expectations.
The sale process could come to a head this week, with Deloitte due to file its report on the administration to creditors tomorrow. Last month the administrators sold Evans, Arcadia’s plus-size fashion brand, to City Chic, of Australia, for £23 million.