The structure of the UK high street is changing. New fascias are being added to the mix, and the fashion industry has been playing an extended game of “pass the parcel”, as a wave of companies change hands in high-profile acquisitions.
For some retail groups, snapping up strong-performing fashion firms is an opportunity to reach a new customer not catered for within their existing businesses. Premium womenswear brand Hobbs, for example, was acquired by TGF Brands (London), the UK arm of The Foschini Group, in November last year, just nine months after the South African retail giant added occasionwear label Damsel in a Dress to its growing portfolio.
Others, like billionaire Philip Day ’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM), are buying floundering brands in the hope of reversing their fortunes. EWM is aggressively on the acquisition trail, snapping up struggling swathes of the high street.
Troubled heritage brand Jaeger joined the ever-expanding Edinburgh Woollen Mill fold in 2017, closely followed by menswear supplier Berwin & Berwin earlier this year.Swedish group H&M is also taking a bigger bite out of British retail by rapidly launching new brands. Both the group’s premium older sister Arket and streetwear-inspired Weekday arrived on London’s Regent Street last summer.
With so many businesses changing hands, Drapers investigates into who really owns the British high street today and which retailers are bolstering their portfolios.