Feb 18, 2022
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Central Group has big plans for Selfridges, sees benefits for Asian ops too

Feb 18, 2022

Central Group is upbeat about its joint venture purchase of Selfridges, despite the challenges facing the business in recent periods.


The acquisition means the company will almost double its European footprint and CEO Tos Chirathivat says Europe is a key market for Central.

In an interview with Nikkei Asia, he said that “Europe is the origin of luxury brands, and European cities are among the most popular destinations for tourists from all over the world”.

The company is paying what’s reported to be around £4 billion for the UK and European Selfridges Group business, in a deal with its JV partner, Austria’s Signa Group. The buy came despite the operating losses Selfridges suffered during the pandemic.

The takeover of the 18 stores in the group (excluding its Canadian ops) will grow Central’s European department store portfolio to 39 and while some have questioned the outlook for department stores, Chirathivat sees them as having strong prospects.

“I am still positive about the future of department stores, as they are essential to every lifestyle need -- from socialising to shopping to dining”, he said. “We are always open to opportunities that fit with our strategy and vision”.

And he sees the purchase of the European group as potentially helping its Asian business. With Asian consumer demand for brands projected to climb, and European department stores having such strong ties to top brands, he feels this could benefit the wider group.

He also feels that Central could benefit from Selfridges’ online strength and its reputation for good online customer service. This could be key for Central’s wider omnichannel strategy in which it’s investing heavily.

As for the benefits Selfridges itself could get from the deal, the deep-pocketed Central and Signa have committed to investing in the group’s stores in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. 

And they expect their combined department store reaching €7 billion by 2024, up 40% compared to 2019, they told Nikkei.

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