Retail hasn’t lost its capacity to surprise. This latest deal taking Arcadia brands (including Dorothy Perkins, Evans and Burton, but not TopShop( into some large Tesco stores is amazing and makes me wonder about a number of things. First, about how the deal came about. Who first had the idea, because I’m certain they didn’t both think of it simultaneously. And why? What are the real drivers behind it? Like most fashion retailers, Arcadia’s brands (apart fromTopShop) already have too much space. And can this really be the best solution Dave Lewis and Co can come up with for Tesco’s oversized stores? Isn’t it rather Giraffe, Harris + Hoole and Euphorium-like in its strategic thinking? Actually, I think it’s less appropriate.
This is the latest in a long line of similar supermarket JVs and tie ups. What they all have in common is the lack of choice surrounding them. These are marriages of convenience, born out of excess floorspace coupled with the fact that our supermarkets are generally even less good at non-foods now than they were ten years ago. And they were not so great at it then. History shows that business partnerships succeed because they are wanted to, not because they are needed to. These are almost invariably forced marriages and tend to be short lived.
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