In February, online fashion retailer Boohoo agreed to buy parts of failed UK department store Debenhams from its administrators for $75.4 million, including all of its in-house brands and websites but not the physical stores. The Manchester-based Boohoo was founded by Carol Kane and Mahmud Kamani in 2006, growing from three employees to a business with sales of more than £1.2 billion last year.
At its height, Debenhams sold $780 million of beauty, fashion, and homewares a year, a figure Boohoo plans to match over time with intensive work to improve the Debenhams website's technology. As part of an ambitious strategy to reestablish Debenhams, the online retailer has lined up 200 cosmetics brands for a major relaunch of Debenhams online this fall. Before it collapsed, Debenhams had 19 million active customers including 6 million beauty shoppers and 1.4 million Beauty Club members.
"Everything that was in Debenhams will be on the site pretty much by the end of summer. That's about 200 beauty brands. We've had a very positive response from all the beauty brands, as we have had with the third-party fashion brands," Chief Executive John Lyttle said. "Debenhams failed because it wasn't relevant to customers. The big thing now is to curate the brands which are relevant to the Debenhams we want to build."
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