Thai and Austrian groups buy Selfridges

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Selfridges, a UK-based chain of department stores controlled by Canadian billionaire family Weston, was bought by Thai conglomerate Central Group and Signa, an Austrian real estate group, in a £ 4 billion contract.

Thai and Austrian groups said Thursday they had reached an agreement to buy the retail, founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1908, after months of negotiations with the Weston.

Central Group, controlled by the Chirathivat family, is the largest department store operator in Thailand. Selfridges will be the first addition to the UK apartments luxury European stores, including La Rinascente in Italy, KaDeWe in Germany, Globus in Switzerland and Danish Illum.

Last year, Central joined forces with Signa in a 50:50 joint venture to buy Globus, and the two groups also jointly own KaDeWe.

Signa is a real estate, retail and media group founded in 1999 as Immofina Rene Benko. Her estates – along with European retail facilities – include the Bauer Hotel in Venice and half of the Art Deco Chrysler building in New York, which she bought in 2019 for about $ 150 million along with RFR Holding. His real estate worldwide is estimated at more than 24 billion euros.

Ahead of today’s deal, people close to the sale negotiations said one of the main attractions of Selfridges ’business was that the brand was owned by most of its stores in the UK and Ireland.

The agreement will end the nearly 20-year ownership of the Canadian branch of the Weston family over Selfridges. In 2003, they bought the company, best known for its London store on Oxford Street, for £ 598 million after a fierce war of bidding against real estate investor Robert Tchenguiz.

Following the last purchase, Central Group and Signain’s retailer portfolio will have a combined annual revenue of € 5 billion, based on pre-pandemic value, which is expected to reach € 7 billion by 2024, according to Thai and Austrian groups.

“As family businesses, Central and Signa will focus on providing exceptional and inclusive shops and digital experiences for both locals and overseas visitors. . . because we are striving to create the world’s leading luxury, retail company, ”said Tos Chirathivat, CEO and CEO of Central Group.

The transaction comes at a time when street vendors are facing a number of challenges with consumers embracing online shopping, a trend accelerated by the pandemic. Debenhams was a well-known merchant in Great Britain forced to file for bankruptcy, while owned by employees John Lewis he had to close several stores.

Alannah Weston, president of Selfridges and daughter of the late Galen Weston, who bought the department store in the UK in 2003, said the deal was a testament to “her father’s vision of a cult group of beautiful, truly experienced department stores”.

“I am proud to hand over the baton to the new owners who are family businesses looking at the long term,” she added.

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