Thai-Austrian Alliance Buys British Departmental Store Selfridges For £4bn

Selfridges, a British luxury department store business, is now being sold to a Thai retailer and an Austrian real estate company.

According to the BBC, the sale for the majority of Selfridges Group is worth roughly £4 billion ($5.4 billion).

The company is best known for its flagship department store on London’s Oxford Street, which was founded in 1908 by US retail entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge.

In 2003, the Weston family’s Canadian wing purchased Selfridges for about £600 million.

“It is a privilege to be acquiring Selfridges Group, including the flagship Oxford Street store, which has been at the centre of London’s most famous shopping street for over 100 years,” Central Group’s chief executive Tos Chirathivat said in a statement.

 Central Group was close to agreeing to buy Selfridges earlier this month, according to reports.

Selfridges Company has over 10,000 employees and has 25 locations in key cities across the globe, including London, Dublin, the Netherlands, and Toronto.

18 of the 25 outlets will be taken over by Signa and Central. The seven Holt Renfrew department stores owned by the Selfridges Group in Canada were not included in the sale and would remain in the Weston family’s hands.

The new owners of Selfridges have stated that they intend to build on the existing brand by developing luxury online outlets as well as enhancing the physical locations.

“Together we will work with the world’s leading architects to sensitively reimagine the stores in each location, transforming these iconic destinations into sustainable, energy-efficient, modern spaces, whilst staying true to their architectural and cultural heritage,” Signa’s chairman Dieter Berninghaus said.

Selfridges is famous for its brilliant yellow cardboard bags, and its main store on Oxford Street in London attracts both consumers and tourists.

A visit to this store, which houses luxury products, is as much about the experience and gorgeous displays as it is about what it sells.

It even sparked a TV show about American entrepreneur Harry Selfridge, who planned to establish the “world’s largest and best” department store in 1908.

That “large, excellent brand” and its structures have now handed the Weston family a £4 billion Christmas present.

John Edgar, the CEO of rival Fenwick and a former chief financial officer of the Selfridges Group, called it a “wonderful price for a fantastic firm.”

Despite the well-publicized troubles of the retail industry because of the pandemic, analysts claim that this sale demonstrates that the Selfridges brand is distinct. It also emphasizes how popular UK real estate is among international investors.

The Weston family, which also controls Fortnum & Mason and has a majority stake in Primark owner ABF, started the sales process in June, a few months after W Galen Weston, who managed the takeover, died.

The move is testament to her “father’s vision for an iconic group of beautiful, truly experiential, department stores”, said Alannah Weston, chair of Selfridges Group and daughter of Galen Weston.

“Creative thinking has been at the heart of everything we did together for nearly twenty years and sustainability is deeply embedded in the business,” she added.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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