Thai investors take control of Selfridges
SeLFRIDGeS’ Thai investor is set to take control of the department store as its Austrian co- owner faces a financial crisis.
Central Group has bought out its troubled Signa to take majority control of the upmarket London store.
Reports emerged earlier this month that Signa had called in restructuring experts to help raise money.
Central Group was seen as the most likely buyer but there was speculation other investors could be interested.
Central has become the majority shareholder but it is understood luxury development company Signa still holds a significant stake in Selfridges. Previously, the two owned 50pc each.
Signa, which jointly bought Selfridges with Central Group for £4bn in 2021, ousted its billionaire chairman Rene Benko earlier this month.
The department store chain, meanwhile, which was founded by American entrepreneur harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909, had insisted it was business as usual as it approaches its key Christmas season, despite the chaos.
Central Group owns a slew of department store businesses across europe including Rinascente in Italy and KaDeWe in Germany. A spokesman for the Thai group yesterday said: ‘The move solidifies Central Group as an owner-operator of the largest european luxury department store group.’
The deal also includes Arnotts and Brown Thomas in Ireland, and de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.
The department store officially changed hands in August 2022 after being owned by the Weston family for almost 20 years. At the time of the sale, Alannah Weston, former chairman of Selfridges Group, said: ‘I am proud to pass the baton to the new owners who are family businesses that take a long-term view.’ The bosses of both Signa and Central expressed at the time that they had long-term ambitions for the chain.
After the purchase, Signa announced intentions to develop a hotel next to its flagship West end store and overhaul its food hall.
But there has been little progress on either project.
Last year Selfridges booked a loss of almost £40m despite sales rebounding off the back of a tourism resurgence.
It put the loss down to an increase in debt interest costs but said its pandemic recovery was healthy. This summer the firm announced around 140 jobs could be axed at its head office, where around 900 of a 3,100-strong workforce reside.
The cash crunch at Signa has also raised some questions over the health of Frasers Group’s acquisition of the German fashion business SportScheck from Signa, which also jointly owns the Chrysler Building in New York.