Thailand’s Central Group acquires British retailer Selfridges

Thailand’s Central Group gained ground in its quest to become a global department store powerhouse last week by acquiring British luxury retailer Selfridges, originally founded by American Harry Selfridge and popularized in the television series Mr. Selfridge.

Central made the purchase in partnership with Signa Holding of Austria for a reported price of $4.76 billion. Central is one of the largest corporations in Thailand with businesses in retail, real estate, hospitality, department stores and malls. In the 1900s, it founded the first department store in Thailand. Before buying Selfridges, it had 94 department stores in Southeast Asia and Europe.

By acquiring Selfridges Group, it adds another 18 stores under four banners in three countries, namely: Selfridges in England, Brown Thomas & Arnotts in Ireland, and De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands. It also picks up Selfridges Group’s e-commerce platforms, which draw over 30 million online visitors monthly and ship to over 130 countries worldwide.

“We are long-term investors with a well-established partnership and shared vision to reshape and reinvent the luxury retail industry. We are committed to creating the world`s leading luxury omni-channel platform for all our customers through both online and offline channels,” said Tos Chirathivat, Chief Executive Office of Central Group.

In addition, Central Group owns 40 malls in Thailand, and dozens of hotels in Thailnd, East and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Central Retail has 3,641 branded stores including supermarkets, hypermarkets, sportswear, stationery, electronics and office products. The group’s profitability and relentless expansion goes against the grain of many analysts’ opinions that brick-and-mortar chains will struggle during the e-commerce era.

Selfridges, founded in 1908 by Harry Gordon Selfridge of Chicago, is best known for its huge luxury store on London’s Oxford Street. Selfridge sparked a revolution in British retail when he opened his emporium. Selfridges Group was bought by the Weston family of Canada in 2003, who sold it to Central Group and Signa Holding.

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