Frasers Group, led by Mike Ashley, has officially declared its interest in purchasing the brands owned by Arcadia. The retail conglomerate has also confirmed that discussions regarding the potential acquisition of department store chain Debenhams are ongoing.

During a series of interviews conducted alongside the release of Frasers Group’s half-year results, CFO Chris Wootton emphasized the company’s dedication to physical retail. Wootton stated that they are always interested in opportunities presented by distressed brands in the industry and consider almost everything on the high street. However, he clarified that they are not specifically targeting any brands within Arcadia at the moment. Wootton acknowledged that it is still early in the process, and the company has yet to determine its course of action.

When asked about Debenhams, Wootton told Sky News that there are no guarantees. Frasers Group is still deciding whether it wants to acquire some or none of the business. Despite concerns about the viability of a failed business like Debenhams, Wootton defended Frasers Group’s interest by highlighting its successful elevation strategy. He believes that customers still value the physical retail experience if there is a reason to visit stores. The company has invested in improving its own stores, resulting in larger spaces and a better selection of products. This investment has attracted consumers and Wootton sees it as a lesson for the industry – by investing in stores, creating a welcoming environment, and offering the right products at the right price, retailers can still drive foot traffic.

The release of Frasers Group’s half-year results further validates its strategy in recent years, which has faced criticism. Some skeptics have questioned the company’s focus on acquiring underperforming brands. However, some of these brands have shown signs of improvement, raising hopes that investments in Debenhams and potentially Arcadia’s stores could yield positive results. It is important to note that Frasers Group is unlikely to take on the full store portfolios of struggling businesses. The company will carefully evaluate opportunities on a case-by-case basis, highlighting its selective approach.

Useful links:
1. Arcadia brands:
2. Debenhams: