Thailand's Central denies Selfridges buy after report says it won £4bn race for firm
Thailand’s Central Group has denied it’s in talks to buy Selfridges after it was reported globally that the firm will buy the business, perhaps as soon as this month. That doesn't, of course, mean that the group won't be the eventual buyer of the business.
In a stock exchange statement, CEO Yol Phokasub said it was offering requested clarification “regarding news stories by The Times and Brand Inside on 2 December 2021 reporting that Central Group is preparing to purchase Selfridges; the company would like to clarify that the company is not currently involved with the transaction reported in the news”.
Selfridges was officially put up for sale this year after the Weston family was believed to have received an unsolicited approach from a still-unnamed buyer. Other potential buyers rumoured to be interested include Hong Kong-based Lane Crawford and Harrods owner the Qatar Investment Authority.
The owner of Italy’s La Rinascente had reportedly won the race to buy Selfridges with terms believed to have been agreed for the deal that could be worth around £4 billion.
The Times reported on Thursday that it had learnt Central Group would buy the business from the Westons and that the deal could possibly close this month. Selfridges hasn’t commented.
The business that was founded as a single Oxford Street department store in 1908 now has 25 locations and owns several Selfridges sites in the UK, as well as Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Dublin, De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands and Holt Renfrew in Canada. The Westons have owned it for most of this century.
Central is an even bigger business than Selfridges with a portfolio that includes both department stores and other specialist retailers. The company operates 3,700 shops globally.
As mentioned, its line-up includes la Rinascente and that perhaps would have been the really interesting part of a deal as Vittoria Radice is vice-chairman of that Italian group. He was CEO of Selfridges two decades ago and was something of a retail star in the UK as he kicked off the transformation that has made Selfridges one of the world’s top luxury department store names. He ran the business from 1996 until 2003 before moving on to M&S and then La Rinascente in 2006.
The Times report said the exact purchase price wasn’t available but the deal was said to include the firm’s property assets, valued at £2 billion alone even without the actual retail business. A total price of £4 billion has been widely talked about.
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