Retailers that have gone online-only
Going online-only is a big risk that retailers have been willing to take after the Covid-19 pandemic presented a set of challenges.
While some merchants have moved to ramp up their online offerings through click-and-collect and fast-to-home deliveries, others have seen their business plummet.
TM Lewin recently reached a bailout deal and will be relaunched as an online brand, but also “considering the possibility of opening new high street stores”.
According to PwC’s annual figures, there were 17,219 closings last year.
Some of the companies that have collapsed have made the decision to go online only – understandably, after the Center for Cities found that the share of all spending done online in UK cities had risen by four points percentage between March 2020 and September 2021.
Retail Gazette examines the current situation of these companies.
In April 2020, Cath Kidston revealed plans to close all 60 UK stores after the retailer fell into administration.
Parent company Baring Private Equity Asia entered into a pre-pack administration agreement and said it would buy the online business, brand and wholesale arm from the administrators.
In October 2020, Cath Kidston unveiled her transformation plan focused on digital acceleration and global growth.
With investment from parent company Baring Private Equity Asia, the retailer has realigned its cost base and structure to create an “economically viable operating model”.
Cath Kidston has invested in its digital infrastructure by upgrading its e-commerce platform, enabling a CRM platform to improve personalized customer interactions.
This has created a cross-border payment and shipping solution to open more than 200 markets by the end of this year.
Although at the end of 2020 Cath Kidston said she would continue to trade online, she opened a store in London which operates as an “experiential” service for shoppers – to fit in with her digital strategy of ‘on board.
Brands owned by Boohoo
Online retail giant Boohoo is credited with buying Oasis, Karen Millen, Coast and Warehouse.
When Boohoo bought Karen Millen and Coast from administration in 2019, it opted to remove the stores as well.
Boohoo acquired the online business of Oasis and Warehouse in 2020 in a deal worth £5.25m with Hilco Capital.
The Oasis and Warehouse Group closed all stores and concessions at the end of April 2020, after administrators failed to find a buyer, resulting in the loss of 1,803 jobs.
Debenhams fell into administration for the second time in April 2020 and closed all of its stores last year.
Boohoo bought the department store chain in January 2021, but it also bought its brand, e-commerce operations and assets in a £55million deal.
In June 2021, Debenhams launched its first brand campaign since its acquisition by Boohoo. The multimedia campaign aims to position Debenhams as a leading digital department store destination for fashion, beauty and home under the new name Debenhams.com.
When Boohoo relaunched the Debenhams website, it focused on a strong beauty offering as its range included fifty major beauty brands such as Benefit, Lancôme, Ralph Lauren, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace.
In December 2021, Boohoo opened a 7,552 square foot Debenhams flagship beauty store in central Manchester Arndale which Boohoo said reflected the digital world through its interactive screens, with real-time posting via social media platforms displayed immediately on them.
Since Asos bought Topshop in February 2021, the online retailer has seen post-pandemic demand surge.
In April 2022, Asos said its share of online sales was now higher in all its markets than it was before the pandemic – but lower than it was during the lockdown. First-half sales were up 1%, but ultimately posted a pre-tax loss as costs continued to rise.
Topshop – which was Arcadia’s flagship brand – saw sales rise 193% year-on-year in Asos’ half-year results to February 28.
Asos sells online and via its mobile app in 10 languages in over 200 markets. It sells a range of over 100,000 products under its own brands – which include Asos and former Arcadia brands Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT, as well as 900 global and local partner brands.
Click here to sign up for the free daily Retail Gazette newsletter