Retailers that have gone online-only

Going online-only is a big risk retailers have been willing to take after the Covid-19 pandemic presented a set of challenges.

While some retailers decided to accelerate their online offerings via click-and-collect and rapid home deliveries, others saw their business collapse.

TM Lewin recently secured a rescue deal and will be relaunching as an online brandbut also “considering the possibility of opening new high street stores”.

According to PwC full-year figures, there were 17,219 closures last year.

Some of the businesses that collapsed made the decision to go online only – understandably so, after Centre for Cities found that the share of all spending made online in UK cities went up by four percentage points between March 2020 and September 2021.

Retail Gazette looks at how those business are currently faring.

Cath Kidston

In April 2020, Cath Kidston revealed plans to shutter all 60 of its UK stores after the retailer fell into administration.

Parent company Baring Private Equity Asia secured a pre-pack administration deal and said it would buy the online business, brand and wholesale arm from administrators.

In October 2020, Cath Kidston unveiled its transformation plan with a core focus on digital acceleration and global growth.

With investment from parent company Baring Private Equity Asia, the retailer realigned its cost base and structure to create an “economically viable operating model”.

Cath Kidston has invested in its digital infrastructure by upgrading its ecommerce platform, activating a CRM platform to enhance tailored customer interactions.

This created a cross-border payment and shipping solution to open up over 200 markets by the end of this year.

Although in late 2020, Cath Kidston said it would continue trading online, it opened a London store that operates as an “experiential” service for shoppers – to fit alongside its digital-first strategy.

Boohoo-owned brands
Boohoo has appointed Kirsty Britz to the board as non-executive director, with effect from today.

Online retail giant Boohoo is recognised for snapping up Oasis, Karen Millen, Coast, and Warehouse.

When Boohoo bought Karen Millen and Coast out of administration in 2019 it also opted to scrap the stores.

Boohoo acquired Oasis and Warehouse’ online business in 2020 in a deal worth £5.25 million from Hilco Capital.

The Oasis and Warehouse Group shut down all stores and concessions at the end of April 2020, after administrators failed to find a buyer, resulting in the loss of 1803 jobs.

Debenhams Boohoo

Debenhams fell into administration for a second time in April 2020, and closed all its stores last year.

Boohoo snapped up the department store chain in January 2021, but it also bought its brand, ecommerce operations and assets in a £55 million deal.

In June 2021, Debenhams launched its first brand campaign since it was acquired by Boohoo. The multi-media campaign is aimed at position Debenhams as a digital-first department store destination for fashion, beauty and home under the new name

When Boohoo relaunched Debenhams’ website, it focused on a strong beauty offering as its range included fifty big-name beauty brands such Benefit, Lancôme, Ralph Lauren, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace.

In December 2021, Boohoo opened a 7552sq ft Debenhams flagship beauty store at Manchester Arndale centre which Boohoo said reflected the digital world thanks to its interactive screens, with real-time posting via social media platforms displayed immediately on them.

Asos Topshop

Since Asos bought Topshop in February 2021, the online retailer saw demand grow post-pandemic.

In April 2022, Asos said its online share of sales is now higher in all its markets than it was before the pandemic – but lower than it was in lockdown. First-half sales grew by 1% but at the bottom line it reported a pre-tax loss as costs continue to increase.

Topshop – which was Arcadia’s flagship brand – saw its sales rise by 193% year-on-year in Asos’ half-year results to February 28.

Asos sells online and through its mobile app in 10 languages to more than 200 markets. It sells a range of more than 100,000 products from its own brands – which include Asos and former Arcadia brands Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT, as well as from 900 global and local partner brands.

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