Central and Signa win Selfridges, Holt Renfrew not included
It’s official — Thailand’s Central Group and Austria’s Signa Holding are buying Selfridges Group from the Weston family. They said the transaction “will create one of the world’s leading omnichannel luxury department store groups”.
The 50/50 partnership between Central and Signa (they already own KaDeWe and Globus together) will “build on the legacy of the late Galen Weston including investing significantly in all the group’s stores in the UK, the Netherlands and Ireland and developing the site adjacent to the Oxford Street store”, they said as the deal was announced late on Thursday.
So what are the details? Family-owned Central, which controls close to 4,000 stores globally, and leading European real estate and retail group Signa have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Selfridges Group. They’re buying 18 department stores, including Selfridges in London, Manchester and Birmingham, de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands, plus Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland. They’ll also get the associated e-commerce platforms and — importantly — properties in London, Manchester and in five Irish locations.
The Canadian holt Renfrew operation isn’t part of the package, however, with the Weston family retaining ownership.
The purchase price wasn’t disclosed but sources have said it was around the £4 billion mark that had been widely predicted.
Selfridges Group will become part of the total Central and Signa portfolio of luxury department stores that includes La Rinascente in Italy, Illum in Denmark, Globus in Switzerland and the German KaDeWe Group. The pro-forma annual turnover for the combined portfolio was €5 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow to more than €7 billion by 2024.
And the new owners want to make the most of the vast array of experience in this group, saying that the combination of these department stores “will enable innovation know-how and knowledge-sharing across different locations”.
All of the stores will continue to be run by the existing leadership teams.
Tos Chirathivat, Executive Chairman and CEO of Central, said: “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. As family businesses, Central and Signa will focus on delivering exceptional and inclusive store and digital experiences for both local residents and overseas visitors alike, to ensure we can give all the stores in Selfridges Group a bright future for the next 100 years. We are looking forward to working with the management teams and the colleagues across Selfridges Group, as we seek to create a world-leading luxury, retail company.”
And Dieter Berninghaus, Chairman of the Executive Board of Signa, added that the JV “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. We plan to fulfil the vision of the late Galen Weston to deliver his masterplan and create a high-quality experience retailing environment for our customers and brand partners”.
Selfridges Group Global MD Anne Pitcher also talked up the virtues of the business. “Our relationships with our brand partners have never been stronger; our e-commerce platforms are well-invested and going from strength to strength; and our sustainability initiatives position us at the forefront of reinventing retail”, she said.
The late Galen Weston acquired Selfridges in 2003 for almost £600 million and formed Selfridges Group in 2010, bringing his five heritage department store brands under one umbrella. Working closely with his daughter Alannah Weston, he built on and accelerated the work begun under previous leadership to make Selfridges itself and the wider group hugely important names in international department store retail.
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