High Street tycoon Mike Ashley in talks to sell Missguided to Shein in Chinese clothing retailer’s first acquisition of British fashion brand
High Street tycoon Mike Ashley is in talks to sell Missguided to the Chinese fast-fashion firm Shein – which could become the brand’s first British acquisition.
Mr Ashley – who owns the likes of House of Fraser, Sports Direct and Game – bought the Manchester-based fashion brand 18 months ago after it fell into administration via his Frasers Group.
He snapped up the brand for around £20 million as it struggled to pay a reported £80m of debts, collapsing in May 2022 as criticisms were levelled at the fast-fashion industry’s alleged environmental impact and dismal working conditions.
But the new deal, first reported by Sky News, would see Shein trying to break directly into the UK market, jostling for competition with other high-volume, low-cost retailers such as Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing and Primark.
In the wake of previous criticisms as to how they operate, UK brands are re-calibrating their marketing strategies – promoting sustainability over throw-away clothing and recruiting A-listers to wear their goods.
Mike Ashley, owner of the Frasers Group, which bought Missguided out of administration for around £20million last year
A Missguided ‘pop-up’ shop. The brand could be sold to Chinese-founded fast fashion brand Shein – giving the global clothing giant a direct stake in the UK market
Shein is estimated to be worth around £53billion after it expanded globally and snapped up rivals across the world. It is said to release thousands of new items every single day
Shein, which was founded in China but is now based in Singapore, is worth an estimated £53billion after rapidly expanding its business globally, snapping up competitors in the process,
Eleonora Dani, an analyst with Shore Capital, told the PA news agency: ‘Shein’s prospective acquisition of Missguided signals intensifying competition in the UK online fashion market.’
She added that a successful sale would serve as a ‘liquidity event’ – flooding Missguided with extra cash with which it can square up to other retailers.
READ MORE: The fast fashion fightback: How giants like Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing and Primark are boosting sales, cutting waste and becoming major players in Fashion Week calendars as they collaborate with celebrities like Naomi Campbell, Rita Ora and Kardashians
Frasers, which also owns brands such as Sports Direct and House of Fraser, bought Missguided for about £20 million in a rescue deal last year.
The group is expected to sell Missguided’s brand and other intellectual property as part of the deal, although its head office is set to be retained by Frasers. Shares in Frasers closed 0.44% lower after trading on Monday.
Missguided touts itself as ‘not just fast fashion (but) rapid fashion’ – releasing up to 1000 new styles each week for its customers, which it refers to as ‘babes’.
Its business model puts it in direct competition with Shein, which is said to release thousands of new items every single day.
However, Shein has been criticised for its working practices – which allegedly see warehouse staff working 18-hour days and getting one day off a month – and has been accused of stealing designers’ work for its own goods.
The company has defended its phenomenal output, claiming that it produces small batches at any one time to avoid waste – only producing more pieces in the same line when items sell out.
But fast fashion brands are also trying to re-imagine themselves as more sustainable amid criticism of their practices, PR gurus have told MailOnline.
While initially popular, brands such as Missguided fell out of favour as shoppers woke up to the impact that their love of easily available, rapidly changing wardrobes was having on the planet.
In a symbolic move that epitomised the public’s changing attitude, reality show Love Island switched its partnership from fast fashion brands, including Missguided, to eBay – and the cast began wearing second-hand garments.
Mike Ashley owns Frasers Group – which controls brands such as House of Fraser and Game
Missguided promotes itself as ‘not just fast fashion (but) rapid fashion’, releasing 1000 new styles each week for customers, which it refers to as ‘babes’
And brands are inking deals with celebrities like model Naomi Campbell, reality star Kourtney Kardashian and pop star Rita Ora to give their sustainability claims credence.
PR expert and founder of 10 Yetis Andy Barr said that fast fashion brands are splashing out on big name stars to repair the damage done.
He said: ‘Fast fashion brands are having a change of heart of late and refocusing how they approach and market celebrity collaborations.
‘They are trying to move away from the throw-away generation types that typically fall out of Love Island and these kinds of five-minute-of-fame celebrities.
‘They are trying to work with celebrities who have their own strong brand values and who will offer them significant clout across their PR campaigns, social campaigns and advertising spots.
‘Fast fashion brands will know that the fans of the big names that they sign up will trust their idols to have made sure that the deals that they sign are with reputable and trustworthy companies.
‘Over time this will help to repair the damage done, especially as consumers move away from one-wear-only clothing.’
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