Shops in Arbroath, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline will permanently close if an online retailer purchases troubled fashion brands.
E-commerce firm Boohoo is in exclusive discussions to buy parts of the Arcadia fashion empire.
Arcadia, which owns Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Burton, went into administration in November.
The liquidation process put around 13,000 jobs at risk, including dozens in Tayside and Fife.
Shops and jobs at risk
Boohoo made a £55 million deal to purchase Debenhams this week. But it will only acquire the brand, not the shops or workers.
It is now seeking to make a similar deal for Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton.
The move would lead to three shop closures in Tayside and Fife:
- Dorothy Perkins, Abbeygate Centre, Arbroath
- Dorothy Perkins/Burton, High Street, Kirkcaldy
- Dorothy Perkins/Burton, Kingsgate Shopping Centre, Dunfermline
In a short statement to investors, Boohoo said: “Boohoo Group plc, a leading online fashion group, notes recent media commentary.
“The group confirms that it is in exclusive discussions with the administrators of Arcadia over the acquisition of the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton (excluding HIIT) brands.
“These discussions may or may not result in agreement of a transaction.
“A further announcement will be made when appropriate.”
Asos, another online fashion retailer, said it is in exclusive talks to buy other parts of Arcadia.
It is interested in the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands.
If successful it would lead stores in Dundee’s Overgate Shopping Centre and Dunfermline’s Kingsgate Shopping Centre to close.
The carve-up of Debenhams and Arcadia between Boohoo and Asos could see 1,389,137 square metres of retail space.
This is the equivalent of 194 Premier League football pitches, coming vacant and available to let according to the real estate adviser, Altus Group.
According to Sky News, bosses at Boohoo have indicated they might pay a little over £25 million for the brands.
A deal could be announced as soon as next week.
Founded by Sir Philip Green, Arcadia employed around 13,000 people and ran 444 stores across the UK before it entered administration.
The Covid-19 pandemic and years of under-investment, as well as competition from online brands, ate into the business.
Who is Sir Philip Green?
The businessman’s career has spanned massive highs, including a £1.2 billion payout in 2005, but has also been marred by a pensions scandal, and accusations of sexual harassment.
Here is a timeline of his rise and fall in the world of fashion.
- 1979 Sir Philip, then just plain old Mr Green, buys up the stock of 10 designer outlets that have failed. He dry-cleans the stock and puts it up for sale again in a shop in Mayfair.
- 1981 to 1988 The aspiring businessman sets up several businesses, many with his mother Alma. Like the Joan Collins Jeans Company, many fail to get off the ground, and several are liquidated. He also makes several successful deals during this time.
- 1988 Sir Philip is hired as the boss of Amber Day, the listed menswear group. He scores several victories in the role, and Amber Day’s share price rises. But he leaves in 1992 after the company misses on profits.
- 2000 Sir Philip buys FTSE 100-listed department store BHS for £200 million. He quickly gains plaudits for turning the struggling business around.
- 2002 Sir Philip buys Arcadia Group, the owner of Topshop, through family business Taveta.
- 2004 The businessman tries to take over high street giant Marks and Spencer but pulls out after getting very close to sealing a deal.
- 2005 Arcadia pays out a £1.3 billion dividend, £1.2 billion of which goes to Sir Philip’s wife Tina, who lives in Monaco so does not have to pay UK tax.
- 2007 Topshop launches a range of clothes designed by supermodel Kate Moss.
- 2010 Protesters gather outside Topshop in Oxford Street, alleging the businessman is avoiding income tax.
- 2015 Sir Philip sells BHS to Dominic Chappell for £1.
- 2016 BHS goes into administration, leaving a pension deficit of £571 million, and costing 11,000 people their jobs.
- 2016 MPs pass a motion to remove Sir Philip’s knighthood over the pensions scandal. He later pays £363 million into the scheme.
- 2018 The Telegraph reports that staff are accusing an unnamed businessman of sexual harassment and racial abuse. Sir Philip is later identified by an MP as the businessman in question.
- 2020 Covid-19 hits the high street. Arcadia closes 444 stores and furloughs 9,294 employees. On November 30, administrators Deloitte announce the Arcadia retail empire has fallen into administration with 13,000 jobs at risk.