Topshop’s proprietor Arcadia Group is reportedly in talks to secure millions of pounds in emergency funding.
The retail chain, which additionally owns Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, was hit exhausting when coronavirus lockdowns compelled the closure of a whole bunch of shops.
The corporate slashed 500 head workplace jobs in July, blaming misplaced gross sales.
However many vogue commentators say the group’s most well-known model – Topshop – has had issues for years.
We check out what’s gone mistaken on the former Excessive Avenue favorite.
1. It is misplaced its cool.
Topshop’s reputation peaked within the heady years earlier than the Nice Recession, when folks had more cash to spend and celebrities have been eager to be related to the model.
At the moment, Topshop counted amongst its staff a few of the most revered names within the trade, corresponding to stylist Katie Grand and model director Jane Shepherdson.
“They have been excellent sort of vogue folks with good vogue pedigree and the results of that was they’d a really clear intention and so they knew who their buyer was,” says vogue columnist Amber Graafland.
Excessive-profile collaborations additionally created buzz for the model, as in 2007, when customers queued across the block to purchase a bit from the vary designed by Kate Moss.
“For some time Topshop was cool. They have been a part of London Trend Week, they have been pulling cool folks onto the runway and within the entrance row,” Ms Graafland says.
However extra not too long ago, Topshop has didn’t command that sort of standing.
The model simply “is not doing something thrilling anymore,” says Barbara Adeniken, a London-based vogue content material creator.
“Once I was 18 and 19, I used to at all times spend my first paycheque in Topshop and purchase a £90 coat. However I do not suppose they’re seen as younger and classy anymore. Extra younger folks I do know have a tendency to buy at BooHoo and Missguided,” she says, referring to 2 of the UK’s hottest on-line retailers.
Topshop did not reply to a request for remark from BBC information.
2. Its digital enterprise has lagged.
Topshop, like different conventional Excessive Avenue manufacturers, has been challenged by online-only vogue platforms like Asos, BooHoo and Fairly Little Factor.
Their low costs and speedy turnover attract clients wanting to repeatedly replace their wardrobe – one thing that has develop into extra essential within the age of Instagram, says Ms Adeniken.
“There’s this notion on social media that you simply at all times should be altering your outfit so after all to try this, you purchase quick vogue,” she says.
The pandemic, which compelled bodily shops to shut for months this yr, solely accelerated vogue’s transfer to the digital market, says Bethan Alexander, a worldwide retail knowledgeable on the London Faculty of Trend.
However in terms of promoting collections on-line, she says Topshop’s conventional excessive avenue rival Zara does a significantly better job.
“Topshop has been responsible of being too sluggish to adapt to the altering market. Whereas Zara has been investing in digital options lately – corresponding to giving shoppers on-line entry to inventory ranges in-store – Topshop has been lagging behind,” she says.
3. It is needed to take care of issues on the high.
Ms Alexander says Topshop’s model has additionally been tainted by Arcadia chairman Sir Philip Inexperienced, after a collection of less-than-favourable incidents.
First there was the BHS pension scandal, which surfaced after Sir Philip offered the now-defunct division retailer in 2015 to a different businessman for £1.
A yr later BHS collapsed, 11,000 folks misplaced their jobs and the corporate was discovered to have a pension deficit of £571m.
Sir Philip later reached a take care of the Pensions Regulator – which accused him of doing the sale to dodge accountability for the deficit – to inject £363m into the scheme. However his popularity took successful.
Then in 2018, Sir Philip was accused of sexual and racial harassment, getting named in Parliament after he took authorized motion to cease the media from publishing the claims.
The retail boss “categorically and wholly” denied the allegations which The Telegraph mentioned it had spent eight months investigating.
Quick-forward to this yr when the pandemic struck and outlets within the UK have been closed.
Garment makers in Bangladesh reported that Arcadia cancelled some orders and demanded a 30% low cost on others.
Ms Alexander says the Topshop proprietor behaved “in stark distinction with some rivals who prioritised the welfare of employees and suppliers because the pandemic hit”.
4. It scores poorly on sustainability.
Topshop won’t churn out new items on the breakneck pace of its online-only rivals, but it surely nonetheless has a quick vogue enterprise mannequin – mass producing clothes cheaply, then transport them to 260-outlets worldwide.
As extra shoppers query corporations’ environmental information, Topshop has fallen behind in terms of sustainability.
“Topshop has confronted controversy over the previous decade as a consequence of allegations of its social and environmental impression and a scarcity of any significant motion to counteract these claims,” says Ms Alexander.
An moral and sustainable model aggregator, goodonyou.eco, charges Topshop as ‘not adequate’ in terms of the surroundings and accuses it of “not taking enough steps to make sure fee of a residing wage for its employees.”
The retailer has “zero transparency about their practices,” says 24-year-old artist Ilona Ecott of Buckinghamshire.
In distinction, she factors to the ethos of newer names corresponding to 23-year-old Grace Beverley, a social media influencer who founded an athleisure label produced from a spread of recycled materials.
“I’d say there are a whole lot of new manufacturers coming round which have good design and they’re not less than attempting to provide the impression of doing stuff responsibly,” Ms Ecott says.
‘I might be gutted if it did not stick round’
For all of the haters, there are undoubtedly nonetheless Topshop followers. The model has 10 million Instagram followers, amongst them Ilona’s pal, 22-year-old Charlotte Inventory.
She says you are much more prone to maintain on to Topshop garments, than these from different cheaper manufacturers.
“Individuals purchase from Fairly Little Factor however they do not match the identical. You’ve them for a yr then do away with them as a result of they’re out of vogue. With Topshop you may costume a high up with totally different trousers or a special coat or cardigan and you may nonetheless put on them.
And what if Topshop closes its doorways for good? “I might be gutted if it did not stick round.”