Iconic luxury department store Selfridges seized by Thai retailer after debt crisis

Thailand’s largest department store owner, Central Group, has taken control of the iconic luxury Selfridges department stores after it was hit by a cash crunch.

Central Group and Rene Benko’s Austrian real estate company, Signa Group, bought Selfridges in 2021 in a deal worth $5billion (£4.018bn).

The future of one of Britain’s best-known retailers was plunged into doubt earlier this month after Signa investment group, which previously held a 50 percent stake in Selfridges, hit financial turmoil.

A spokesman for Central Group: “This move solidifies Central Group as an owner-operator of the largest European luxury department store group offering customers the best curation of brands, merchandise, and extraordinary experiences.”

Signa, founded by Rene Benko, 46, also holds stakes in the Chrysler Building in New York and Berlin’s KaDeWe luxury department.

Central Group is owned by Thai billionaires the Chirativat family.

Central will gain control of the joint venture unit that also operates Brown Thomas & Arnotts in Ireland, and De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.

The Telegraph reports the move came as it emerged in company filings that Selfridges finance director, Matthew Smith, stepped down after five years in the role.

Now he has taken up a post at Inspired Education Group, the international private school company, following a career in retail. Mr Smith has been replaced by Preetha McCann, a partner at the accountancy firm, EY.

Originally founded in 1908 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, Selfridges is best known for its flagship store in Oxford Street, London.


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