British luxury department store chain Selfridges is being sold to a Thai retailer and an Austrian property firm. The deal is said to be worth £4bn and comes after the death of Galen Weston, one of the billionaire Weston family who bought Selfridges for nearly £600m in 2003.
Founded in 1908 by US retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge, the company is best known for its flagship department store on London’s Oxford Street. “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.
Selfridges Group employs around 10,000 people and owns 25 stores worldwide, including in major cities in England, Ireland, the Netherlands and Canada.
Signa and Central will take over 18 of the 25 stores. Selfridges Group’s seven Holt Renfrew department stores in Canada were not part of the deal and will remain in the ownership of the Weston family.
Selfridges’ new owners said they plan to build on the existing brand to develop luxury online stores as well improving its physical sites.
“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.
The Vienna-based Signa Group was founded by entrepreneur Rene Benko in 200 and has gone on to become Austria’s largest privately owned real estate company. Central group, the other half of the partnership involved in the Selfridges deal, is owned by the billionaire Chirathivat family and is based in Bangkok.
The two firms already jointly own major department stores across Europe.
The Central-Signa 50/50 bid reportedly beat rival offers from the Qatar Investment Authority, which owns Harrods, and Lane Crawford, a Hong Kong-based department store chain, as reported by the BBC.
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