The Central group and Signa will jointly own the chain which includes the Selfridges, Arnotts and Brown Thomas stores.
The billionaire dynasty behind Selfridges & Co. sold the UK department store operator to a Thai-Austrian joint venture for around Â£ 4bn (Â£ 5.4m) in one of the largest deals retailing in the UK for years.
The Weston family said Central Group, which is owned by Chirathivats, one of Asia’s richest families, and Austria’s Signa Holding, have formed a joint venture to buy the retail group. Central and Signa will own the channel in a 50-50 partnership, according to a statement Thursday evening London time.
The purchase price has not been officially disclosed but is around 4 billion pounds ($ 5.4 billion), according to two people with knowledge of the transaction who asked not to be named because the information is confidential . That makes it one of the 10 biggest acquisitions targeting a UK company this year, according to Bloomberg data.
Bloomberg previously reported that the Weston family were considering a sale following an interested party approach and appointed Credit Suisse as advisor in June.
Selfridges, founded in 1908 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, is best known for the giant Oxford Street store in London which has long been a mecca for fashion enthusiasts. There are also Selfridges stores in Manchester and Birmingham.
The company was bought by Canadian businessman Galen Weston for almost Â£ 600million in 2003 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. In total, the group operates 25 stores around the world through its five brands.
The sale to Central and Signa does not include Holt Renfrew, who will remain with the Weston family.
Central Group is a fourth generation family business involved in a multitude of industries ranging from real estate and retail to hotels and restaurants. The Chirathivat family had the 20th largest fortune in Asia, worth $ 12.9 billion, according to a ranking established in November 2020 by Bloomberg News.
Signa was founded by real estate and retail entrepreneur RenÃ© Benko, who owns or holds stakes in some of the world’s most famous properties, including the Chrysler Building in New York City.
Trophy assets in the UK have generated interest even as retailing on major shopping streets suffers. Retail property values ââhave declined in recent years and the industry has been hit by the pandemic and the shift to online shopping.
Selfridges is one of the most famous department stores in the world and has weathered the pandemic well. A considerable part of the retailer’s value lies in the significant portion of London real estate it owns on Oxford Street. This includes an undeveloped site at the back of the store where there were once plans for a hotel, leisure and office complex.
The Selfridges group will be part of the combined portfolio of luxury department stores Central and Signa, which owns Rinascente in Italy, Illum in Denmark, Globus in Switzerland and KaDeWe in Germany.
The founder of Selfridges was the subject of an ITV Studios and PBS television series that ran for four seasons until 2016. Called “Mr. Selfridge,” the series focused on the real story of the American. who started the business and with Jeremy Piven.