Selfridges sold to a union of Thailand and Austria in a deal worth 5 billion USD

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London
A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a Selfridges store in Oxford Street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain July 28, 2020. REUTERS / Hannah McKay

December 23, 2021

By Matthias Inverardi

DUESSELDORF (Reuters) – British luxury chain Selfridges is being sold to a Thai retailer and an Austrian real estate company in a deal that a source close to said is worth around £4 billion. UK ($5.37 billion).

Thailand’s Central Group and Austrian real estate company Signa Group, which jointly own major department stores across Europe, said on Thursday they had signed an agreement for the floating store chain. known for its Oxford Street store in London.

The Weston family of billionaires in Canada bought the company Selfridges for nearly £600 million in 2003.

Central Group, owned by the billionaire Chirathivat family and Austrian investor Rene Benko’s Signa, jointly owns department stores in Germany, Italy, Denmark and Switzerland.

Founded in 1908, the Selfridges Group employs 10,000 people and owns 25 stores worldwide, including in major cities in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Canada.

Signa and Central will take over 18 of the 25 stores and hope to build a luxury hotel next to leading Oxford Street, the source said, adding that seven department stores in Canada are not included in the package.

With Selfridges, they hope to build a luxury department store empire, supplemented by an online business.

The source said it plans to increase sales to 8 billion euros ($9.1 billion) by 2024 — including more than 1 billion online — from about 5 billion today.

The source said the group would be managed from a parent company in London, with the potential to eventually go public, although local management of stores in other countries would remain. remain in place, the source said.

Central opened its first department store in 1956, growing to become Thailand’s largest department store owner with approximately 2,400 retail stores. It has an e-commerce joint venture with China’s and a stake in Grab Holdings in Southeast Asia.

Central has been present in Europe since 2011 when it bought the Italian luxury department store chain La Rinascente SpA for 205 million euros. In 2013, it also acquired Illum, Denmark’s oldest department store.

In 2015, Central acquired a majority stake in three luxury department stores in Germany from Signa. Last year, Central and Signa jointly acquired Swiss luxury store Globus and other properties for more than 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.1 billion).

Central and Signa have also partnered with Japanese retail giant Aeon Co to develop an e-commerce platform for one of the fastest-growing online sports retail markets in the world.

Benko has made a name for himself as a real estate investor. He purchased the iconic Chrysler Building in New York City in partnership with real estate firm RFR Holding LLC for about $150 million in 2019.

(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Hans Seidenstucker and Mark Potter) Selfridges sold to a union of Thailand and Austria in a deal worth 5 billion USD

Bobby Allyn

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