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On 23 June 2020, JD Sports Fashion plc (JD) announced that it had appointed joint administrators from Deloitte LLP to restructure its business, Go outdoors (Go). This is due to challenges caused as a result of the pandemic, which forced Go to close its stores and brought focus to the company’s operating costs.
JD revealed that in May 2020 advisers were appointed for the potential sale of the Go business, however, decided that if restructured, Go would still have a future within the group. Resultantly, JD has purchased Go and all of its assets back from the administrators, through a newly incorporated subsidiary, for £56.5 million. JD has also announced that it intends to retain the majority of Go’s real estate, which currently operates 67 stores, subject to ‘realism and flexibility in future leases’. The sports retail giant emphasized that they will ‘preserve as many jobs as possible’.
In addition to restructuring Go Outdoors, JD appealed against the CMA’s decision to block its merger with Footasylum on 17 June 2020. The sports retailer believed the CMA’s decision failed to take into account the impact of the pandemic on the industry, stating that without its backing, Footasylum would also be likely to join ‘long list of retail casualties we've already seen during the current crisis’ (See Watchdog blocks JD Sports-Footasylum merger).
Although the pandemic appears to have escalated the dire state of the retail market, the industry had been taking a beating long before the impact of Covid-19, with 2019 marking the worst year on record for UK retailers (See Slashed prices and increased online sales leave retailers out in the cold). Whilst safety measures forced all non-essential retail to close their doors and escalated these ongoing issues, many retailers had noted reduced footfall in stores prior to this, with a larger focus on online sales. Emphasizing this, retail chains, Warehouse and Oasis, owned by Icelandic bank Kaupthing, fell into administration in April 2020, after being forced to close multiple stores prior to the onset of the pandemic. Whilst Kaupthing had been in discussions regarding the sale of the businesses prior to Covid-19, the onset of the pandemic made this unviable, forcing the companies into administration. However, on 17 June, online-only retail giant, Boohoo Group plc reported that it had purchased the struggling fashion brands online businesses, adding to its own growing online empire, which includes Karen Millen and Coast who had fallen off the high street in 2019. Boohoo’s online business model has prevented it from falling prey to the growing retail graveyard, and the company had in fact reported a 45% increase in total group revenue in its trading update. The AIM 100 company has also raised almost £200 million from a placing in May 2020, intending to use the proceeds ‘in order to take advantage of numerous M&A opportunities that are likely to emerge in the global fashion industry over the coming months’.
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