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Selfridges owners close in on deal to sell department store

Lauretta Roberts
02 December 2021

Department store Selfridges is set to be sold to Thailand’s Central Group, according to reports, in a move that would mark a return to the business by Vittorio Radice, the man charged with transforming it into the upscale retail force it is today.

The Weston family have been searching for a buyer and are said to be looking for around £4 billion for the retail group, which has 25 stores globally, including the flagship Oxford Street site as well as branches in Dublin, the Netherlands and Canada through its Selfridges, Holt Renfrew, De Bijenkorf, Brown Thomas and Arnotts fascias.

According to The Times, which first reported the deal, the process could drag on until the end of the year but terms were agreed in the last few days. Selfridges has declined to comment.

The historic department store can trace its roots back to 1908, when it was founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge, and has been owned by the Westons for 18 years.

Central Group is a family-owned conglomerate that started in Bangkok but went global when the founder’s son, Samrit Chirathivat, opened Thailand’s first department store in 1956. It now has 3,700 shops around the world, from supermarkets to electronics outlets, and department stores in Europe, including the La Rinascente, Illum and KaDeWe chains.

Vittorio Radice in Selfridges with then finance director Peter Williams in 2002. Williams would go on to become CEO of the retailer. Credit: Alamy

Central Group’s non-executive director Vittorio Radice ran Selfridges between 1996 and 2003 and has been leading La Rinascente in Italy 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, Radice spent a short period with Marks & Spencer, before joining La Rinascente in 2005 as CEO. He became chair in 2021 following its sale to Central Retail in 2011.

The Weston family launched the sale process for the Selfridges Group in June, a few months after the death of Galen Weston, who oversaw the move to take the department store private in 2003.  The family control Selfridges through Wittington Investments Ltd in Canada.


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