Thai Billionaire Family’s Central Group, Austria’s Signa Buying British Retailer Selfridges

The flagship Selfridges store in London


Courtesy of Central Group

Central Group—controlled by the Chirathivat family, among Thailand’s richest—and Austrian partner Signa Holding have agreed to buy British retailer Selfridges & Co. from the Weston family of Canada.

The equal partners are acquiring a portfolio comprising 18 department stores, including the flagship Selfridges store on Oxford Street, which has been at the center of London’s most famous shopping strip for over 100 years. The assets also include e-commerce platforms and retail outlets across the U.K., Netherlands, and Ireland.

“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,” Tos Chirathivat, executive chairman and CEO of Central, said in a statement. “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.”

Central Group announced the deal on its website, without providing financial details. The family of the late Canadian billionaire Galen Weston had considered selling Selfridges for about 4 billion pounds ($5.4 billion), according to Bloomberg. Weston acquired the British retailer for almost 600 million pounds back in 2003 and has since expanded the chain to include Arnotts and Brown Thomas in Ireland, and de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.

Selfridges will be combined with Central Group and Signa’s existing portfolio of luxury department stores across Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany and Austria, Central Group said in a statement. The pro-forma annual turnover for the combined retail assets was 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion) in 2019 and is projected to grow to more than 7 billion euros by 2024, it added.

Central Group is led by Tos Chirathivat, grandson of the group’s founder, Tiang Chirathivat, who first established the business back in 1927. With a net worth of $11.6 billion, the Chirathivat family ranked No. 4 on the list of Thailand’s 50 Richest that was published in July.

Signa, which manages $20 billion in assets, is one of Europe’s largest real estate and retail companies. It was founded by Austrian billionaire Rene Benko, who owns or has stakes in some of the world’s iconic properties including the Chrysler building in New York.