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Legendary department store chain Selfridges to be sold at auction - starting price £4bn



The chain of luxury department stores, founded in 1909, may change ownership.
Selfridges

The Selfridges chain of department stores, whose history goes back 113 years, will change its ownership. The Weston family, which owns the asset, will put the chain up for an auction with an initial value of GBP 4 billion. Credit Suisse has been appointed as a transaction advisor - the financial organization will send offers to several elite customers from among its potential buyers. 

It is expected that the lot will include existing department stores Selfridges in the UK - in London, Manchester, and Birmingham, as well as the Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland and De Bijenkorf - in the Netherlands.

Selfridges

Selfridges opened its first department store back in 1909 by American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge. At the height of the empire, the flagship Oxford Street department store had more than 100 departments, including a shooting gallery and a library, writes The Guardian. 

By the early 1990s, the legendary store was deemed obsolete, and a project to renovate and modernize Italian expert Vittorio Radice led it. The revamped Selfridges attracted fashion brands and even more shoppers, and expansion beyond London began. 

Selfridges

Following Radice's departure to Marks & Spencer, control of Selfridges went to the Weston family, who invested millions in keeping the business going. Significant mass events were held to attract customers, and upscale restaurants and other facilities were opened. In 2019, the company's sales rose 7 percent, to nearly £2 billion, while net income fell 10 percent, to £88 million. 

Experts note that Selfridges remains one of the most competitive assets in physical retail, which has successfully maintained a customer base despite the departure of shoppers to online retail. At the same time, market participants express surprise at the desire of shareholders to sell the asset during a pandemic, when sales and profits are under pressure due to the decline in the number of customers and customer activity. 

The names of possible buyers of the department stores have not yet been disclosed. According to market sources, the Thai group Central Retail, which owns department stores La Rinascente in Italy, Illum in Denmark, and KaDeWe in Berlin. In addition, the HBC group (the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue) and Hong Kong's The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, as well as several investment funds from China and the Middle East, may claim the asset. It is assumed that the deal can be completed by the end of 2021, although the scenario in which the Weston family retains the purchase is not excluded. 

Photo credit: depositphotos.com.


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