boohoo group bought over Debenhams in January after the operations went into turmoil from the UK lockdowns and shoppers' shift to online. It was acquired for 55 million pounds. Debenhams had been a fixture of UK retail since 1778. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Kuwait’s retail giant Alshaya Group has retained its regional rights to the UK’s Debenhams brand, with the latter now under a new management.

The partnership with Debenhams’ new owner – boohoo group, which made its name in online fashion retail – comes with value additions too.. For the first time, regional shoppers will have access to boohoo’s own portfolio - boohooMAN, Nasty Gal and MissPap fashion brands in store.

They will also get back Burton, Coast, Dorothy Perkins, Karen Millen, Oasis, Wallis and Warehouse – “brands that have all been progressively acquired and refreshed by boohoo group in recent years”. Alshaya Group will "progressively introduce" boohoo fashion brands into Debenhams Middle East stores from October. The launch of Debenhams.com in the region is planned for early 2022.

Debenhams is a highly successful and well-loved brand in the Middle East, thanks to sustained store and product innovation over 25 years. Today we are delighted to step-change that innovation through our new partnership with boohoo group plc, one of the UK’s leading digital retailers

- John Hadden, CEO of Alshaya Group

A casualty and then the pick up

Debenhams had been one of the notable casualties of the COVID-19 created high-street disruption of last year, and had been a bitter blow for the UK’s retail scene.

Now, under boohoo group, which picked up ownership in January last, the legacy brand is looking to script a major revival. And Alshaya will remain part of that process – the first Debenhams store opened in the Gulf in 1997, at a location in Bahrain. It soon extended to other Gulf markets, where the name remains extremely popular with a family-shopper audience.

Alshaya operates 23 Debenhams in-mall stores in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Oman and Qatar. “Debenhams has been an incredibly popular brand in the region for over 25 years - so this is a great opportunity to build on the existing brand awareness, introducing exciting new brands and extended product ranges to customers," said John Lyttle, CEO of boohoo group. "Alshaya has a great understanding of retailing in the region, are well placed to successfully drive the growth and popularity of Debenhams in the Middle East, and can leverage boohoo’s digital pure play expertise.”