Retail Insights from Retail & Tech No 29

Retail news and trends to watch out for


  • A new marketplace for UK beauty? It emerged yesterday that online fashion retailer Boohoo will acquire the Debenhams brand – the deal does not include Debenhams stores, which will close. Boohoo says that its aim is to create the UK’s largest marketplace in fashion, beauty and homeware. Debenhams has a substantial beauty business – it claims to have six million beauty shoppers and 1.4 million Beauty Club members  –  and the deal is said to be a way for Boohoo to get deeper into the category. It will also provide Boohoo with access to older consumers, who as a result of the pandemic are now buying more online. The Boohoo news comes as online retailer Asos announced that it will bid to buy ailing fashion retailer TopShop – Asos too is interested in the brand rather than Topshop’s physical stores. Both moves highlight the decline of brick-and-mortar stores in the UK and the rise of online players, who are increasingly ready to pick up the pieces left by faltering physical retailers.


  • Rethinking stores. L’Occitane is looking to close stores in the US. The company has filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition in a US Bankruptcy Court so it can restructure its store network. The company said its business in the US continues to be impacted by what it calls disproportionately high store rents that are no longer tenable. It added that a Chapter 11 process is necessary to restructure its portfolio of stores following repeated efforts to negotiate what it sees as unmanageable store lease terms with landlords.


  • Off-mall appeal. Given the empty retail spaces and fewer consumers in malls, as well as increased demand for curbside pick-up, retailers in the US are looking to expand elsewhere. Department store Macy’s just opened its second off-mall store called Market by Macy’s in Texas. The store is a smaller format than the typical Macy’s store at 20,000ft2 (1,858m2) and is described as an easy-to-shop and open environment. The store carries fashion and home goods, in addition to an expanded selection for beauty. It also offers a full or self-service check-out option, as well as contactless curbside pick-up, buy online-pick-up in store, buy online-ship-to-store and same-day delivery with delivery app DoorDash.


  • Shopee’s premium ambitions. Southeast Asian e-commerce player Shopee is looking to ramp up its premium offer. The company, which launched shopping platform Shopee Premium last October, said it wants to develop its assortment to include more prestige fashion and beauty brands. The company highlights that consumers can be reassured that products on the platform are authentic as they are sold directly by the brands. Shopee is also said to be expanding its geographical reach – a recent report by Reuters stated that the company is looking to develop its business in Brazil after having launched a pilot program in the country in 2019.