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Topshop and Topman to be sold at Next online

Fashion group Arcadia has announced another third-party tie-up, with its Topshop and Topman brands set to be sold via Next online in the coming months.

As the retailer posted accounts for the 53 weeks to 1 September 2018, showing annual sales and profits had declined after a “challenging year”, it revealed the partnership with Next – which already involves Arcadia’s other brands – will be expanded.

It follows similar moves by Arcadia to partner with retailers that are in growth mode, including online fashion house Asos and European marketplace titan Zalando, where Topshop beauty ranges are available. For some time, Arcadia's Wallis, Evans, and Miss Selfridge brands have been sold via Very.co.uk – and this has been extended to cover all brands in the stable.

The “challenging year” Arcadia cites has seen the group’s creditors approve seven company voluntary arrangements (CVA) which will allow the organisation to downsize its store estate in the coming years. The business’s billionaire chairman, Sir Philip Green, has also promised to inject £135 million revamp operations online and in-store as a condition of the CVA.

The annual report notes that “plenty of enhancements and initiatives” are in the pipeline to continue the development of the group's digital proposition, alongside plans to improve “key stores” on the UK high street.

Arcadia has launched a new digital platform and digital delivery passes for its key brands in recent months in an effort to improve the online customer experience, and it is ramping up its focus on technology in multiple ways. Its IT and digital teams have hosted open days for engineers and developers, in an attempt to showcase the company’s future goals and attract the latest tech talent into the business.

The group also said that, having moved into a new distribution site in Daventry in July, it is already benefiting from delivery efficiencies brought about by several automated features built in to the facility.

Annual turnover for continuing operations totalled £1.82 billion, which was down from £1.9 billion the year before, while the group reported a loss after tax of £114.4 million. Arcadia reported a profit of £144.8 million in 2017.

From an operating perspective, the loss was £138 million, and down from a £119 million operating profit one year before.

The group said it had been impacted by the reduced profitability of its stores, adding it was not possible to reduce the cost of stores at the same rate sales had declined.

Arcadia also announced this week the departure of interim chairman and restructuring expert, Jamie Drummond-Smith, while chief operating officer and long-term ally to Green, David Shepherd, has also taken early retirement.

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