MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — Fast-fashion e-tailer Boohoo is bargain hunting.
As the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc upon much of the fashion industry, Boohoo, best known for its skin tight, bare-all looks for ultra-cheap prices, sees an opportunity to build its empire.
The Manchester-based group has raised £198 million ($238) for new M&A opportunities, in a private placing that’s left the company with around £500 million in cash. The deal was led by boutique investment bank Zeus Capital.
The private placing was priced at £3.40 per share, done via an accelerated bookbuild, a process that usually takes one or two days and does not reacquire shareholder approval. Zeus Capital and Jefferies International acted as joint global coordinators of the deal.
It’s no secret Boohoo has big ambitions. Last August, the company paid £18.2 million for Karen Millen and Coast’s e-commerce businesses. The investment in more up-market propositions diversified its portfolio beyond its bread-and-butter of Insta-worthy, affordable fashion labels targeting women in their teens and 20s. The move suggested dreams of cornering the accessible fashion market and rivalling fast fashion stalwarts H&M and Zara.
Karen Millen and Coast were the latest in a string of acquisitions, which included Pretty Little Thing, where Boohoo purchased a controlling stake for £3.3 million in 2017; Nasty Gal, which cost the group £16 million in 2018; and MissPap, which it bought for an undisclosed sum in 2019. In 2013, the group expanded into menswear with a dedicated BoohooMan brand.
With the coronavirus pandemic devastating much of the global fashion industry, there are likely to be plenty of opportunities for Boohoo to snap up new targets in the coming months. Already British high street fixtures such as Cath Kidston and Oasis & Warehouse Group have fallen into administration. In the US, larger players like Neiman Marcus and J Crew have filed for bankruptcy.
Boohoo itself is not immune to the impact of Covid-19. It reported slowing year-on-year sales growth in mid-March as lockdowns dampened consumer demand for fashion apparel. Nevertheless, full-year results were strong, with revenue rising 44 percent to £1.2 billion for the 12 months ending 29 February 2020. The Group said sales into May have remained “robust.”
Boohoo was founded in 2006 by Mahmud Kamani as a digital fashion label offering trend-led clothes at an affordable price, ramping up to a £300 million IPO in 2014. Today, Boohoo Group has a global active customer base of almost 14 million, and boasts a market capitalisation of over $4.1 billion.