Thailand’s Central Group has bought the luxury British retail chain Selfridges in partnership with Signa, an Austrian property firm. According to a Reuters report, the deal is worth around UK£4 billion (180 billion baht). Central Group is owned by Thailand’s billionaire Chirathivat family, while the Signa group is owned by Rene Benko, an Austrian investor. Between them, they already own several major department stores in Germany, Italy, Denmark, and Switzerland.
Selfridges was founded in 1908 and owns 25 stores around the world, including its flagship London store and stores in other major cities in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Canada. The company employs around 10,000 people. In 2003, the Canadian arm of the billionaire Weston family purchased Selfridges, in a deal worth nearly UK£600 million (27 billion baht).
According to Reuters, the 7 Selfridges stores in Canada are not part of the deal with Central Group and Signa, who will take over 18 of the group’s 25 stores. They plan to build a luxury hotel alongside the London flagship store, as well as developing an online business to complement a luxury department store empire. A source credited in the Reuters report says the plan is to increase sales from €5 billion to €8 billion (303 billion baht) by 2024, with over 1 billion of that generated online.
Central has around 2,400 retail stores in Thailand and is the largest mall owner in the kingdom. Its first foray into Europe was in 2011, with the purchase of the Italian department store chain, La Rinascente SpA, in a deal worth €205 million. Since then, it has acquired stakes in stores in several other European countries. Last year, Central and Signa bought Globus, Switzerland’s luxury store, and both groups have partnered with Aeon, a retail giant in Japan, in the development of an online retail platform.
According to the Reuters report, Austria’s Benko is a property investor who, in 2019, purchased New York’s Chrysler Building in partnership with a property firm in a deal worth around US$150 million (5 billion baht).