Retail Cornerstones Fall in Britain, Pushed by Fast Fashion and Pandemic
Debenhams and Arcadia Group, the owner of Topshop, collapsed despite extensive government programs meant to shore up British businesses.
The flagship Debenhams department store on Oxford Street in London. Britain’s fashion retailers enjoyed a golden period and were seen for a time as a source of national pride.
The flagship Debenhams department store on Oxford Street in London. Britain’s fashion retailers enjoyed a golden period and were seen for a time as a source of national pride.Credit…Matt Dunham/Associated Press
By Eshe Nelson and Elizabeth Paton
Dec. 1, 2020
LONDON — The British department store Debenhams can trace its history back 242 years to a shop on Wigmore Street in central London. On Tuesday, it finally succumbed to the pressures of 21st-century e-commerce. After more than a year of restructuring and several months of trying to find a buyer, the company said it would begin shutting down.
Debenhams is the second big retailer to topple in two days, after Arcadia Group, which owns brands including Topshop and Miss Selfridge, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday. The two are also linked because Arcadia’s brands have a big footprint in Debenhams, with sections set aside for their clothes.
And so, as Christmas lights flicker above the sidewalks in Britain’s downtowns and as the busiest shopping period of the year begins after a monthlong lockdown in England, the nation is watching two of its largest retailers fall. They have about 25,000 employees between them.
More bankruptcies are expected, as the lockdowns have relentlessly exposed the retailers that have failed to pick up on customers’ willingness to shop online.
Courtesy: New York Times