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Selfridges co-owner Central Group takes control amid Signa crisis

By Rachel Douglass


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Selfridges Oxford Street Credits: Andrew Meredith.

Central Group, the co-owner of Selfridges, has stepped in to take full control of the luxury department store chain after its partner Signa Group continues to tackle an ongoing financial crisis.

The Thai firm, owned by the billionaire Chirativat family, is understood to have gained control of the joint venture unit, which also operates the Netherlands’ De Bijenkorf and Ireland-based Brown Thomas & Arnotts.

The move comes after Signa’s founder and former chairman of the Advisory Board René Benko stepped down from his position at the company as it appointed German restructuring expert Arndt Geiwitz to oversee the next steps.

Signa, which snapped up Selfridges in a five billion dollar deal alongside Central in 2021, began facing financial difficulties following the beginning of the war in Ukraine, after which interest rates began to rise and ultimately impact the property market, seeing Signa Prime Selection receive a 1.17 billion euro devaluation.

Now, Central has stepped in for what it said “solidifies” its place as the owner-operator of the largest European luxury department store group.

In a statement to the press, the group said that it had “exercised its right to convert a loan provided by one of its subsidiaries to the Selfridges group into equity”.

Amid Signa’s restructuring, concern had also been raised with regards to its ongoing sales process with UK-based Frasers Group, which is looking to takeover German sports retailer, SportScheck.

While the deal, currently expected to close by the first quarter of 2024, had been thrust into doubt alongside the details of Signa’s reports, SportScheck CEO Matthias Rucker had a more positive outlook.

In a statement to FashionUnited, Rucker said: “We have a sustainable and solid transformation plan that will remain in place. SportScheck has not filed for bankruptcy.”

Central Group