High street empties as ASOS sweeps bulk of Arcadia empire, Aldi tells former employees to apply for

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The high street has taken yet another hit on Monday after it was announced that ASOS PLC (LON:ASC) has acquired Arcadia’s Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands for GBP265mln.


The deal means 300 shops across the UK will be permanently closed with 2,500 staff losing their job, according to media reports, prompting Aldi to encourage former high street employees to apply for supermarket roles.


READ: ASOS snaps up four Arcadia high street brands for GBP265mln, including Topshop


Nick Beighton was reported as saying he will “look” at saving Topshop’s flagship Oxford Street store, though he would rather do it through a partnership such as it happens in the US with department store Nordstrom.


ASOS did not mention stores in this morning’s announcement, though it said it will transition 300 former Arcadia employees across design, buying and retail partnerships.


According to its website, Arcadia owns over 1,100 stores in 34 countries. When it entered administration in November, its UK estate counted 444 leased sites.


In December, Evans was sold to Australian firm City Chic Collective, which will not incorporate the five standalone stores, for GBP23mln.


Then last month it was revealed that 31 stores under the Outfit brand would be permanently shuttered, culling 700 jobs.


After today, the only brands of Philip Green’s former empire still up for sale are Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton, which have been eyed by online pure-play retailer boohoo Group PLC (LON:BOO) so there may be more closures in sight.


Meanwhile, boohoo has just announced the acquisition of Debenhams’ brand and intellectual property GBP55mln, with 124 department stores to shut permanently at the cost of up to 12,000 jobs.


Following the dire news, Aldi invited those affected by the collapse of Arcadia and Debenhams to apply at its stores amid its recently announced two-year GBP1.3bn investment in the UK estate.


“We are currently opening an average of one new store a week as we continue to try to meet the huge demand,” said Kelly Stokes, Recruitment Director at Aldi UK.


“That means finding around 4,000 new Aldi colleagues this year and, if we can do that while also helping those who have recently lost out due to closures elsewhere, we will do.”


It’s bad news for landlords British Land (LON:BLND), Capital & Regional (LON:CAL), Hammerson (LON:HMSO) and Landsec (LON:LAND), which own respectively six, three, three and two Debenhams stores.


Some sites have sparked interest in leisure, retail or food companies, according to the Evening Standard, while others will struggle to find new occupiers due to their location.


For example, a former Debenhams store in Wandsworth will become an entertainment centre with an e-karting area, darts, ping pong and pool tables alongside New York-themed food venues after Gravity Active Entertainment signed a new lease a few weeks ago.


Conversely, Hammerson proposed to convert a centre in Leicester to 338 flats to “complement the retail offer”.


However, the British Property Federation has appealed the government to reconsider the “uncontrolled conversions to residential” that have come up as a potential solution to the high street crisis because they could result in property developers prioritising homes to other types of buildings.


“A holistic approach to a high street’s future will ensure new homes are planned for, to ensure the right balance is achieved between residential and everything else – so we can create coherent and thriving neighbourhoods,” the group said.


“This new Permitted Development Right will take control away from local authorities at a time when our high street’s future depends more than ever on strong local leadership and vision.”


–Adds Aldi update–

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