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Selfridges Sold to Central Group in £4 Billion Deal

December 27, 2021 BeautyMatter
December 27, 2021
Selfridges

The billionaire Weston family has sold Selfridges to a consortium led by Thai conglomerate Central Group, beating out rival bids from the Qatar Investment Authority, which owns Harrods, and Lane Crawford, a Hong Kong-based department store owner.

WHO: Selfridges was founded in 1908 by Harry Gordon Selfridge. Best known for the giant store on London's Oxford Street, it’s been named the best store in the world four times. The Selfridges portfolio is comprised of 18 department stores, including Selfridges in London, Manchester, and Birmingham, de Bijenkorf in Netherlands, Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, their associated e-commerce platforms and the properties in London, Manchester, and five locations in Ireland.

Central Group is a family-owned company involved in a host of industries from real estate and retailing to hospitality and restaurants. Central opened its first department store in 1956, growing to become Thailand's largest mall owner with about 2,400 retail stores. It has an e-commerce joint venture with China's JD.com. Central has been present in Europe since 2011, when it bought Italian department store chain La Rinascente SpA for 205 million euros. In 2013, it acquired Illum, Denmark's oldest department store. In 2015, Central bought a majority stake in three luxury department stores in Germany from Signa. In 2020, Central and Signa bought Swiss luxury store Globus and other assets for more than $1.1 billion. The Chirathivat family had the 20th largest fortune in Asia, worth $12.9 billion, according to a ranking compiled in November 2020 by Bloomberg News.

Signa Holding was founded by retail and real estate entrepreneur René Benko, who owns or has stakes in some of the world's most famous properties, including the Chrysler building in New York.

WHY: It's been reported the decision to sell Selfridges was prompted by the death this year of Galen Weston, who led the acquisition of Selfridges from the Sears Group in 2003. With the right expansion strategy of the Selfridges brand, Central could achieve a valuation of Selfridges over £6 billion by 2025, according to estimates from CWM, a retail property consultancy.

DETAILS:

  • Central Group, owned by the Chirathivats, one of Asia's wealthiest families, and Signa Holding have formed a joint venture to buy Selfridges from the Weston family. Central and Signa will own the chain in a 50-50 partnership.
  • The sale does not include the Holt Renfrew chain in Canada, which will remain with the Weston family.
  • In the year ending February 2020, Selfridges' released annual figures show a 10% drop in operating profits year on year to £88 million, while sales increased by 7% to £1.97 billion.
  • The transaction will see Selfridges Group become part of the combined Central and Signa portfolio of luxury department stores that include Rinascente in Italy, Illum in Denmark, Globus in Switzerland, and the KaDeWe Group in Germany and Austria.
  • No price was disclosed, but Bloomberg previously reported the Weston family was considering a 4 billion pound ($5.4 billion) approach and had appointed Credit Suisse as an advisor in June.
  • The conglomerate will be managed from a holding company in London, with the potential for an eventual stock exchange listing. However, local management of the stores in other countries will remain.
  • The Westons acquired Selfridges in 2003 for £598 million and has since expanded to include other department store chains, including Arnotts and Brown Thomas in Ireland, Holt Renfrew in Canada, and de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.
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