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Boohoo acquires Karen Millen and Coast out of administration

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Boohoo has today bought the online businesses of Karen Millen and Coast out of administration. 

The retail group said it had paid £18.2m in cash for the online business and association intellectual property rights of Karen Millen Fashions and Karen Millen Retail after they went into administration this morning. They had previously been put up for sale by Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

Boohoo says that the online business of the two brands will complement its existing multi-brand approach while helping it in its ambition to lead the global online fashion market. Boohoo already owns Nasty Gal and PrettyLittleThing. 

John Lyttle, group chief executive of the Boohoo Group, said: “The acquisition of the online business of two great and renowned British brands in Karen Millen and Coast represents another milestone in the group’s growth story as it continues to invest in its scalable multi-brand platform and gain further share in the global fashion ecommerce market.”

In the year to February 28 2019, the Karen Millen holding company, Karen Millen Holdco 1, turned over £161.9m and turned in an operating loss of £1.4m, according to figures cited by Boohoo today. Karen Millen and Coast together made revenues of £174.1m, with direct online sales of £28.4m. 

The Coast brand was owned by Karen Millen Fashions, which bought the Coast online and concession business out of administration in October. That company turned over Its 24 stores were not included in the deal, and that meant the loss of about 300 jobs. Another 600 staff, working in Coast’s concessions, its online business and head office, joined Karen Millen. At the time, Karen Millen said Coast had a “thriving” future ahead of it and there there were room for expansion across its remaining sales channels. 

Today’s announcement suggests that Boohoo, which itself is a pureplay as are its existing brands Nasty Gal and PrettyLittleThing, sees an even more pared-back future for Coast and parent company Karen Millen.

Although occasionwear specialist Coast saw its 24 UK stores close when it was bought by Karen Millen, it continued to sell from more than 100 department store concessions owned by Debenhams, House of Fraser and others. It also had an international presence in stores and malls that was concentrated in the Middle East and, to a lesser extent, Northern Europe. Luxury womenswear business Karen Millen sold from 50 stores in the UK and from one in Germany. It employed a reported 1,100 staff in the UK. 

Karen Millen is a Top50 retailer in IRUK Top500 research, while Boohoo is ranked Top100, PrettyLIttleThing Top150 and Coast Top250.

Image courtesy of Boohoo Group

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