Number of retail M&A deals increases 30% since before the pandemic – 34 deals in 2022

Published on 17 April 2023

Takeovers of distressed retailers comprised just under a quarter of all deals in 2022

The number of UK M&A deals targeting retailers has increased by 30% since before the pandemic, with 34 retail M&A deals announced in 2022 compared to 26 in 20191, shows research by international law firm, RPC.

This marks only a marginal decline from 35 retail deals in 2021 – by comparison, global M&A deals dropped by 38% in 2022.


Of the 34 deals in 2022, just under a quarter (eight) were takeovers of distressed retail businesses, as rising inflation and interest rate hikes put more retail businesses under financial strain. Continued disruption in global supply chains and difficulties in refinancing have also put some retailers under stress.


Karen Hendy, Co-Head of Retail & Consumer Brands at RPC says: “The combination of inflation and lower consumer confidence have inevitably hit retailers with weaker balance sheets. These retailers are now being snapped up by the sector’s stronger players, with acquirers looking longer term, past the peak interest rates.


“Deals involving distressed businesses have helped prevent some important brands and retailers disappearing. The investment in a business that often results from an acquisition can be crucial in preserving jobs that might otherwise be lost.”


E-commerce companies comprised over half of the M&A transactions (18) in the last year, as retail businesses continued to invest in developing online retail capabilities and adding to their online brand presence. These strategic deals often enable the acquirer to enhance digital sales channels to broaden their brand’s appeal amongst new demographics.


Of the remaining retail M&A deals, two-fifths (13) involved omnichannel retailers (those with a physical and online presence) while three deals involved pure bricks and mortar retailers.


Hendy adds: “The economic downturn has encouraged all retail businesses to look more closely at whether their non-core assets should be put up for sale. The better capitalised companies are using that trend to acquire more assets in segments they see as strategically important.”

Number of retail M&A deals increases 30% since before the pandemic Number of retail MA deals increases 30 percent since before pandemic

1Year-end December 31st 2022. Original research available on request.

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