Through a partnership with the online fashion retailer ASOS in the United Kingdom, Nordstrom was able to acquire a minority stake in the fashion brands Topshop, Topman, and Miss Selfridge as well as the activewear label HIIT.
Pete Nordstrom, President and Chief Brand Officer of Nordstrom was quoted by CNBC as saying that the collaboration has the potential to redefine how a department store operator collaborates with brands. As part of the retailer’s post-pandemic strategy, the company plans to more seamlessly integrate its offline and online stores through the implementation of this deal, which could lead to a wider strategic alliance with ASOS in the future. Following the completion of this transaction, ASOS will continue to exercise operational and creative control over Topshop.
Topshop is widely regarded as the preeminent British high-street fashion brand. Arcadia, the company’s previous owner, placed a significant amount of trust in Topshop, making it a fashion mainstay for young adults in their teens and twenties. Despite this, Topshop was acquired by ASOS in February 2021, which resulted in the closure of Topshop’s website. Consequently, the question that arises here is, “Is Topshop still in business?”
The Beginning of Topshop
When it first opened in the 1960s, Topshop was an extension of the department store Peter Robinson and sold the work of up-and-coming British designers like Mary Quant and Stirling Cooper. Today, Topshop is one of the most well-known retail chains in the world. In 1946, Burton became the owner of the women’s clothing retail chain Peter Robinson after making the acquisition. Peter Robinson’s Top Shop, which opened in 1964 and was originally known as Topshop, was a youth brand that originated in the Sheffield location of the business and also occupied a sizable portion of the Oxford Street location. As The Times put it in 1965, this was a high fashion for the “young and different generation,” and the department stocked garments by designers such as Mary Quant and Gerald McCann. By 1966, the company already had a presence in the Peter Robinson store in Norwich, where it operated as a branch.
Diane Wadey, a buyer for Peter Robinson’s Top Shop, had a keen eye for up-and-coming talent, and she was the one who connected Royal College of Art graduate Jane Whiteside with Jeff Cooper and Ronnie Stirling. As soon as they had finished developing the Stirling Cooper brand, it was quickly stocked in Peter Robinson locations in Norwich and Bristol in addition to having its sections in Top Shop locations in London and Sheffield. Jeff Banks, French Connection, and Radley Cooper were some of the other brands that could be found at Top Shop.
Within the span of two years, Topshop was successful in opening 55 standalone stores and generating a profit of one million pounds. As a result of this success, Topshop decided to open its male counterpart, Topman, in 1978. Topman specializes in men’s fashion and was established at a time when men’s tailoring services were beginning to experience a decline.
The Rise of Topshop
Oxford Circus is home to Topshop’s flagship location, which opened in 1994 and encompasses more than 80,000 square feet of retail space. In the middle of the 1990s, Jane Shepherdson, who is widely regarded as the most powerful woman on the scene of British high-street fashion, was hired to work as the brand director for Topshop. Shepherdson is credited with changing how women shop for and wear fashion as well as democratizing women’s fashion in general. Shepherdson decided to transform the brand into a style mecca at that time to maintain its success despite the emergence of value retailers at that time. The highlight of this transformation was well-designed, fashion-savvy clothing.
The Burton Group was divided up and reorganized into the Arcadia Group in 1997, and it remained that way until it was acquired by Sir Philip Green in 2002 for the price of £850 million. During that period, Shepherdson was still in charge of Topshop. After that, the company became a major sponsor of London Fashion Week, and by 2005, Topshop had an annual revenue of more than one hundred million pounds. Since Shepherd departed from the company in 2006, Topshop has been steadily declining in popularity.
Protests and Controversy
Topshop has come under fire for the policies it employs regarding sourcing from overseas as well as the tax arrangements it has made. People & Planet, a student campaigning network, singled out the Edinburgh location for criticism in December 2007, alleging that it used cotton that was harvested through the use of “slave labor.”
In December 2010, approximately 200 protesters staged a sit-in at Topshop’s Oxford Circus shop, which caused the store to be closed. In Brighton, several protestors glued themselves to the branch windows. Similar demonstrations against corporate tax arrangements took place on other high streets in towns and cities across the United Kingdom as part of a day of action organized by UK Uncut. Two months later, the police in Colchester apprehended a man after finding the message “pay your taxes” written in washable ink on the wall of a Topshop location there.
Rihanna, the singer, prevailed in her lawsuit against Topshop, which had printed an unofficial image of her on a T-shirt, in July 2013. The lawsuit was started on the presumption that customers of Topshop would assume Rihanna endorsed the company. This would result in a false representation of her celebrity image and increased tensions with her then-current endorsement deal with River Island, which is a competitor on the high street. The Honorable Judge Justice Birss agreed with the assertion that consumers would most likely be led to believe that the singer endorsed the product. Topshop has filed an appeal with the High Court, in which they accuse Rihanna of wrongfully advocating that “only a celebrity may ever market his or her character” and Judge Justice Birss of misreading the law on “celebrity merchandising.” Topshop also claims that Judge Justice Birss misread the law on “celebrity endorsements.” On January 22, 2015, the appeal was heard in London and was dismissed by a unanimous decision at the Court of Appeal.
As of July 2015, Topshop has come under fire for its mannequins, which some customers have deemed to be of an unhealthily thin build. The clothing retailer responded to a customer complaint posted on Facebook by discontinuing the use of its tall and skinny female shop mannequins. It was also criticized in October 2018 for removing an in-store pop-up in its London flagship store after only having it up for 20 minutes. The pop-up was used to promote feminism with publisher Penguin, but it was removed after the event was over. The clothing retailer had reached an agreement with Penguin to serve as the pop-up shop’s host to support the launch of Scarlett Curtis’s book Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies). The pop-up shop would sell items that would donate proceeds to the United Nations charity Girl Up.
In May 2016, the UVW union staged a significant demonstration in front of the Oxford Circus location of Topshop. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP was one of the attendees. It was the main event of a national “day of action” that involved 16 other Topshop stores across the country and was supported by a variety of trade unions and activist groups. The purpose of the “day of action” was to call for the Living Wage and dignified treatment of outsourced cleaners who were being victimized for their participation in trade union activity.
Is the Topshop Still Around?
Fast forward to the year 2020: the Covid-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to the brand. Arcadia joined the administrative service of the United Kingdom in the month of November. As a result of the bankruptcy proceedings, every single Topshop location across the United Kingdom was forced to close, which put Arcadia in jeopardy of going out of business and jeopardized the security of over 13,000 jobs. In addition, on February 1 of the year 2021, the online clothing retailer ASOS announced that it would buy Topshop and all of the other brands owned by Arcadia Group for a total of £265 million.
A few months later, in July 2021, Topshop was purchased by Nordstrom, which at the time was in the process of modernizing its department store chain to appeal to a younger demographic of customers. Since 2012, Nordstrom has been the sole retailer authorized to sell Topshop and Topman products in the United States. The brick-and-mortar presence of these brands will now be limited to a single location in Nordstrom stores worldwide.
Pete Nordstrom, the CEO of Nordstrom, was quoted in a statement as saying, “Bringing the ASOS brands to our customers, including Topshop and Topman, allows us to create newness and excitement.”
ASOS Bought Topshop
The British fast-fashion giant ASOS has paid a total of £265 million (approximately $364 million) to acquire Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, and HIIT. The brands were previously owned by the now-defunct Arcadia Group, which was owned by the fashion magnate Philip Green.
ASOS is an online-only retailer, so it has not purchased any of the brands’ physical stores. This means that all of the stores will be closing, putting the jobs of thousands of people in jeopardy.
The shift of fashion retail away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores and toward online platforms has accelerated during the pandemic, and it is only fitting that the four brands be made available online. Online sales accounted for approximately 60 percent of total revenue across Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, and HIIT in 2020.
ASOS stated in a letter to investors that the brands were acquired because they complement its existing portfolio and are established in the United States and Germany, with approximately half of their sales in the year 2020 coming from markets outside of the United Kingdom.
The company also referred to the transaction as “financially attractive,” noting that the four brands brought in a combined revenue of £1 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2019, but that figure dropped to approximately £265 million ($364 million) in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. According to ASOS, the purchase will result in one-time transaction and restructuring costs of approximately £20 million (approximately $27.5 million).
Will You Still be Able to Buy Topshop
Shoppers will still be able to access merchandise sold by Topshop; however, these items will now be sold as part of the larger Asos site, and shoppers will no longer be able to shop for products in-store or on the brands’ previous websites. Shoppers can still access merchandise sold by Topshop; however, these items will now be sold as part of the wider Asos site.
You will need to navigate to the ‘women’ section of the menu tab on the Asos website, click on the ‘brands’ section, and then select Topshop before you will be able to view the Topshop category.
TOPSHOP is a British fashion brand that specializes in women’s apparel, shoes, and accessories. The brand’s original name was Top Shop. Before it was purchased by ASOS on February 1, 2021, it was a part of the Arcadia Group, which was controlled by Sir Philip Green. However, the Arcadia Group went bankrupt in late 2020, and Sir Philip Green lost control of the company. In addition to being sold in Nordstrom stores in the United States and Canada, as well as on the Nordstrom website, it is now also available via the ASOS website and app.