Boohoo buys Debenhams in £55m deal but stores still set to shut

  • Video report by ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills

Debenhams stores are still set to shut for good, despite online fashion retailer Boohoo buying the brand.

In a £55 million deal, Boohoo will relaunch the department store as an online-only operation later this year.

But bosses said the agreement will not include rescue for Debenhams' stores - which will close for good after nearly 250 years of trading - putting 12,000 jobs at risk.

The deal will see Debenhams products sold by Boohoo from early next year, allowing enough time for liquidators to continue closing the retailer’s sites once they are allowed to reopen after Covid lockdown restrictions are lifted.

The high street stalwart announced it was to start winding down operations at the end of last year.

Among the first casualties is Debenhams' flagship Oxford Street shop - marked as one of the first sites to close - as well as stores in Portsmouth, Staines, Harrogate, Weymouth and Worcester.

Boohoo said the deal represents a “fantastic opportunity” to target new customers and launch into the beauty, sports and homewares market for the first time.

The company highlighted how Debenhams has six million beauty shoppers and 1.4 million Beauty Club members.

It said: “The group intends to rebuild and relaunch the Debenhams platform, helping further the group’s stated ambition to lead the fashion eCommerce market, and grow into new categories including beauty, sport and homeware.”

In hints that it intends to take on the might of Amazon, Boohoo said it would create the UK’s largest marketplace across fashion, beauty, sport and homeware – expanding the range of products sold via Debenhams marketplace by maintaining current third party relationships and expanding further.

Debenhams’ own fashion brands will also be absorbed into Boohoo’s current portfolio and sold via the Debenhams website.

Boohoo chief executive 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.”

Debenhams will sit alongside other Boohoo products from next year Credit: Boohoo/PA

Founder and executive chairman, Mahmud Kamani, added: “Our acquisition of the Debenhams brand is strategically significant as it represents a huge step which accelerates our ambition to be a leader, not just in fashion eCommerce, but in new categories including beauty, sport and homeware.”

Boohoo has previously bought a number of well-known high street brands out of administration, turning them into online-only operations, including Oasis, Coast and Karen Millen.