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All change: the fashion business takeovers of 2019

Several retailers were firmly on the acquisition trail throughout this year, most notably Sports Direct and Manchester-based fast fashion empire Boohoo. 

Drapers recaps some of the businesses that changed hands over the past 12 months in retail.

karen millen aw 19

Karen Millen autumn 19

Karen Millen and Coast

Fast fashion etailer Boohoo Group acquired the online business and intellectual property rights of premium womenswear brands Karen Millen and Coast in August. The etailer acquired the two womenswear brands for £18.2m in a pre-pack administration deal that resulted in 62 immediate redundancies.

All Karen Millen and Coast stores, as well as concessions, have since shuttered. The duo were relaunched as online-only retailers in October. Boohoo Group has outlined plans to “retain the brands’ DNA,” as well as introducing lower entry price points and growing the inventory.

jack wills

Jack Wills

After a bidding battle between Phillip Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group and Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International, Jack Wills was sold to the latter in August. Sports Direct acquired Jack Wills for £12.8m in a pre-pack administration deal. All 100 Jack Wills stores in the UK and Ireland, as well as the retailer’s distribution centres, were transferred to Sports Direct.

The move led to the departure of Jack Wills boss Suzanne Harlow the same month. Sports Direct has since closed eight Jack Wills stores – in Marlborough, Derby, Reigate, Rock, Tunbridge Wells, Durham, Kingston and St Albans – and asked landlords to accept rent-free tenancy agreements on some of its worst-performing stores. More closures are likely if it cannot achieve lower rents across the remaining portfolio.

Oliver Tezcan

The Idle Man founder Oliver Tezcan

The Idle Man

Oasis and Warehouse Group made its first foray into the menswear market this year when it bought online retailer The Idle Man. The terms of the deal were not disclosed but Hash Ladha, group CEO of Oasis and Warehouse Group, said it planned to scale the etailer’s proposition and add infrastructure support. The purchase would also allow the Group to tap into growing demand for fashionable menswear, Ladha added. The Idle Man was founded in 2014 by former Asos buyer Oliver Tezcan and stocks brands including Barbour, Cartharrt and Vans.

Barneys New York

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) bought bankrupt luxury department store operator Barneys New York Inc in November for an undisclosed sum. CEO Daniella Vitale stepped down the same month. Barneys had previously filed for bankruptcy protection and put itself up for sale in August, blaming the challenging retail climate and “excessively high rents” for its troubles.


Luxury group LVMH, owner of brands including Louis Vuitton, Loewe and Celine, bought iconic US jeweller Tiffany in November for €14.7bn (£12.6bn). 

LVMH said the purchase would strengthen its position in the jewellery and watch market, while Alessandro Bogliolo, CEO of Tiffany, said: “Tiffany has been focused on executing on our key strategic priorities to drive sustainable long-term growth. This transaction, which occurs at a time of internal transformation for our legendary brand, will provide further support, resources and momentum for those priorities as we evolve towards becoming ‘the next generation luxury jeweller’.”

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