The Rise of IP
Since the first lockdown last March there have been financial winners and losers and you don’t have to be a genius to spot which type of retail business has suffered the most and why.
With customers locked down and shops shut, established online retailers such as Amazon and those companies that have pivoted online have flourished. Retailers relying predominantly on Bricks and Mortar outlets have seen sales collapse and many are now carrying an unsustainable cost burden.
The evidence is clear to see. The last 10 months have seen a raft of large retailers with multiple locations going into administration. The list is a tale of fallen giants: Peacocks, Jaeger, Laura Ashley, Oasis, Debenhams and the once all conquering Arcadia group. The death of the High Street has been long predicted but Covid-19 has made it a reality.
What is worth noting however, is that all these brand names retained their value even in administration. The only assets Administrators have been able to sell for any value is the companies’ intellectual property. Prime examples are the Debenhams brand being sold to Boohoo for £55m (but not any of its stores), Marks and Spencer buying the Jaeger brand (but none of its stores), private equity buying the TM Lewin brand (but none of its stores) and the imminent sale of Arcadia’s brands (but none of its stores). Ultimately, the physical assets of these businesses have ended up worthless.
I suspect this trend will continue long after the pandemic has passed and it raises many questions about the long term future of the high street but, what is clear, is that never before has the intrinsic value of intangible assets been so high. It is now more important than ever that businesses, both old and new, focus on creating, exploiting and protecting their Intellectual Property. After all, it’s probably the most valuable asset they have.