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Selfridges acquired by Central Group and Signa Holding

Tom Shearsmith
23 December 2021

The sale of upscale department store group Selfridges has been confirmed, with Central Group and Signa entering into a definitive agreement to acquire the business from the Weston family.

The Selfridges Group portfolio comprises of 18 leading department stores, including Selfridges in London, Manchester and Birmingham, de Bijenkorf in Netherlands, Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, their associated e-commerce platforms and the properties in London, Manchester and five locations in Ireland.

The transaction will see Selfridges Group become part of the combined Central and Signa portfolio of luxury department stores. Central owns La Rinascente in Italy and Illum in Denmark, while Central and Signa also teamed up to buy Globus in Switzerland and The KaDeWe Group, which operates in Germany.

Central and Signa will operate all the stores in Selfridges Group including Selfridges, de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands, and Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, which will continue to be run by the existing leadership teams, as well as their e-commerce platforms and operating companies. The Canadian business, Holt Renfrew, will remain with the Weston family.

The financial details of the transaction were not publicly disclosed but reports suggest that the Westons had placed a £4bn price tag on the group when it was put up for sale earlier this year. Around £2bn on that value was for property, including the iconic London store. The decision to sell Selfridges is said to have been prompted by the death this year of Galen Weston, who led the acquisition of Selfridges from the Sears Group in 2003.

The Central and Signa 50/50 partnership promises to build on Selfridges’ foundations and luxury online customer offering, developing an integrated and compelling omni-channel proposition, with exclusive online stores as an extension of the physical stores.

It is understood that former Selfridges CEO Vittorio Radice has been instrumental in sealing the deal. Radice ran Selfridges between 1996 and 2003 and has been leading department store La Rinascente since 2006. His role at the group includes responsibility for expansions in Europe.

During his tenure at Selfridges, Radice demerged it from the Sears Group and oversaw significant investment in the business transforming it from a somewhat fusty store into a vision more akin to that of its founder Harry Gordon Selfridge, who invented experiential retail in 1908 about a century before anyone had even dreamed up the term.

After Selfridges was acquired by the Westons in 2003, Radice spent a short period with Marks & Spencer, before joining La Rinascente in 2006 as CEO. He became chair in 2021 following its sale to Central Retail in 2011.


Tos Chirathivat, Executive Chairman and CEO of Central, said: “It is a privilege to be acquiring Selfridges Group, including the flagship Oxford Street store, which has been at the centre of London’s most famous shopping street for over 100 years. As family businesses, Central and Signa will focus on delivering exceptional and inclusive store and digital experiences for both local residents and overseas visitors alike, to ensure we can give all the stores in Selfridges Group a bright future for the next 100 years. We are looking forward to working with the management teams and the colleagues across Selfridges Group, as we seek to create a world-leading luxury, retail company.”

Dieter Berninghaus, Chairman of the Executive Board of Signa, added: “Together we will work with the world’s leading architects to sensitively reimagine the stores in each location, transforming these iconic destinations into sustainable, energy-efficient, modern spaces, whilst staying true to their architectural and cultural heritage.”

Alannah Weston, Chairman of Selfridges Group, commented: “The acquisition of Selfridges Group by Central and Signa is testament to the successful realisation of my father’s vision for an iconic group of beautiful, truly experiential, department stores. Creative thinking has been at the heart of everything we did together for nearly twenty years and sustainability is deeply embedded in the business. I am proud to pass the baton to the new owners who are family businesses that take a long-term view. I know they will fully embrace that vision and continue to empower our incredible team to take the Group from strength to strength.”

Anne Pitcher, Global Managing Director of Selfridges Group, who will remain with the business, said: “I am proud that over the last two decades of Weston Family ownership, we have built Selfridges Group into the sustainable, innovative and world-leading retail group it is today. Our relationships with our brand partners have never been stronger; our e-commerce platforms are well-invested and going from strength to strength; and our sustainability initiatives position us at the forefront of reinventing retail. We could not have done any of this without our teams and I would like to place on the record my thanks, to every one of them for helping make this business what it is today.”

We are joining an impressive group of leading luxury department stores across Europe presenting a fantastic opportunity for the business and reinforcing our leading status and position in global retail.”

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