Luxury department store group Selfridges is set to be sold to a Thai conglomerate for up to £4bn.
This UK-based retailer has 25 locations, which includes a flagship store on London’s Oxford Street and branch offices in Dublin, Canada, and the Netherlands.
According to the Times which reported the news, Selfridges’ owners, the Weston family agreed terms with Central Group over the course of the last few days.
Harry Gordon Selfridge, a US magnate in retail, founded Selfridges in 1908.
The billionaire Westons have owned it for 18 years.
Galen Weston died in March 2003. The Weston family placed the chain on the market in June.
Selfridges is controlled by the Wittington Investments Ltd family in Canada. This separates from the UK division of the same name, which owns a significant stake in Primark-owner Associated British Foods.
Central Group is an established family conglomerate. It was started in Bangkok, but expanded when Samrit Chirathivat (the founder) opened Thailand’s first departmental store.
There are now 3,700 stores worldwide, including electronics shops, department stores, and supermarkets.
Vittorio Radice, the non-executive chief of Central Group, managed Selfridges from 1996 to 2003. He has also been running a department store here in Italy since 2006. This includes the responsibility of Europe’s expansion.
The confusion over whether the Selfridges sale was a failure grew when a division of the group called Central Retail issued an announcement on stock exchange that it wasn’t involved in a deal.
It is believed that the Westons are currently in negotiations with another arm of Central Group.
Although it is not clear why the family decided to sell the company, like most retailers, the lockdown and absence of tourists from the city centre have caused the company to suffer.
The business had sales of almost £2bn in the year to February 2020, but when more recent accounts are published they are likely to show a big fall.
Selfridges refused to comment and Central Group was unable to reach them.
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