COVID-19 brings Arcadia into administration, but public perception of Topshop’s brand has struggled

Stephan ShakespeareCEO and Co-Founder
December 02, 2020, 10:50 AM UTC

Retail group Arcadia, owner of British high street giants Topshop and Dorothy Perkins, hired administrators this week after the coronavirus pandemic “severely impacted” sales. The retail empire, which is owned by controversial businessman Sir Philip Green, failed to secure extra funding to pay its debts despite the Black Friday sales period.

While the pandemic created an unforeseen set of circumstances, new YouGov BrandIndex data suggests that Arcadia’s ‘jewel in the crown’ brand, Topshop, had been struggling for a while.

In the lead up to Black Friday, the biggest event in the retail calendar and a time when brands should perform their best, Consideration scores (whether someone would consider purchasing from the brand in future) for both Topshop fell 6.6 points respectively.

Topshop’s Index score (an average of Impression, Value, Quality, Reputation, Satisfaction and Recommend scores for the brand, and a good measure of brand health) has been stagnant over the past eight years, at a time when rivals Next, Zara, H&M and Primark have seen their scores improve.

H&M’s scores increased from 10.0 to 16.0, Zara’s scores improved from 11.9 to 13.1, while Next’s scores increased from 24.2 to 29.2. Primark’s brand health increased from -10 to +2.7 over the period, despite having no online offering and stores being in various stages of closure since March.

One former boss of Topshop attributed the brand’s stagnation to Sir Philip Green’s refusal to acknowledge the rise of online shopping. YouGov Profiles shows that, of those who’ve bought clothes from Topshop in the last three months, more than half make most or all of their purchase online (55%) and two thirds say they usually browse and purchase entirely online (63%).

With rumours that online-only brand Boohoo is looking to buy Topshop, transferring Topshop’s internet-savvy customer base should be a welcome and relatively seamless move considering a third of Topshop customers have also bought clothing from Boohoo recently (34%).

Image: Getty

This article previously appeared in City A.M.