Nordstrom buys stake in Topshop and Topman fashion brands in deal with UK online giant Asos

UK online giant Asos acquired Topshop and related brands in February, giving the millennial-oriented brands a new home, as reflected in this graphic on its website. Nordstrom just took a minority interest in the brands in a deal with Asos.

Nordstrom has acquired a minority stake in the fashion brands Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT through a deal with UK online giant Asos, in the Seattle-based retailer’s latest bid to boost its digital business and appeal to millennials.

The investment is due to be announced Monday morning, according to a report Sunday by the New York Times, citing an interview with Nordstrom President Pete Nordstrom. It’s part of a broader move by the retailer to make its physical and online stores work more seamlessly together, a trend accelerated by the pandemic.

Nordstrom has been seeking for several years to compete more effectively with the likes of Amazon and others across e-commerce and traditional stores.

“We could not have found a better partner in Asos, the world leader in fashion for the 20-something customer, and are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with them to reimagine the wholesale/retail partnership,” Pete Nordstrom said in a statement quoted by Footwear News in an article Sunday evening.

Industry publication WWD described the deal as unusual, noting that “Nordstrom has not been in the business of investing in market brands that it sells at its stores and online.” Nordstrom confirmed to WWD that the deal is the first of its kind.

Financial terms had not been disclosed as of Sunday evening.

Asos acquired the brands in February for $364 million. The deal did not include any of the brands’ 70 physical retail stores, the Guardian reported.

Nordstrom’s sales, still down from past periods, have been recovering from the pandemic, as noted in this graphic from the company’s first-quarter earnings report.

Like other retailers that rely on physical stores, Nordstrom has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It reported a loss of $690 million for the fiscal year ended Jan. 30, on net sales of $10.3 billion, down from a profit of $496 million on net sales of $15.1 billion the year before.

But in a sign of the rapidly changing landscape, Nordstrom said digital transactions represented 54% of total sales for the recent year, up from 34% the prior year.

For the first quarter, ended May 25, the company’s net loss was $166 million, an improvement over its loss of $521 million as the pandemic gripped the economy in the same quarter a year earlier. Digital sales were up 23% in the first quarter.

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