The plus-size clothing brand Evans has been bought out of administration in a £23m deal but will close all five standalone stores with the loss of 25 jobs.
The brand is the first part of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group to be sold off, marking the beginning of the breakup of his fashion empire, which also includes Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Burton and Miss Selfridge.
City Chic Collective plans to operate Evans, which made sales of £26m online and via wholesale last year, as an online-only brand. That will mean the closure of more than 100 Evans concessions and outlets within other Arcadia stores as well as its five standalone shops. The concessions and other outlets will not close immediately but hundreds of jobs are at risk at those outlets.
Arcadia, which employs 13,000 people at about 500 outlets, collapsed into administration last month as high street lockdowns prompted by the coronavirus pandemic piled on pressure after years of flagging sales amid heavy competition from rivals such as Boohoo and Primark.
Bids for all the brands are due to be filed on Monday, with Topshop expected to attract offers of up to £200m. Bidders are thought to include the online specialist Boohoo, the fashion and homewares group Next, and Authentic Brands, the owner of the US department store Barneys. Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, formerly known as Sports Direct, is also thought to be interested in the smaller Arcadia brands.
Administrators from Deloitte said on Monday there had been “significant expressions of interest for all brands”. They said they did not expect to provide a further update on the process until January.
Australia’s City Chic Collective said it had bought Evans as part of a plan to extend its portfolio of plus-size brands, which include City Chic and Hips & Curves, into Europe. It operates in Australia, New Zealand and the US, where it bought the Avenue brand last year. The company already had a relationship with Evans, which has sold City Chic products via its website for the past five years.
“Our vision has always been to lead a world of curves,” said Phil Ryan, the chief executive of City Chic Collective. “From modern fashion to casual apparel, intimates and footwear, designing fashion for the curvy woman that fits and flatters, is all we do.”