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Signa crisis: Frasers’ SportScheck takeover thrown into doubt, Central underlines commitment

By Rachel Douglass


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Matthias Rucker, CEO of SportScheck. Credits: SportScheck

Amid the ongoing reports of trouble at Austrian firm Signa Group, the potential impact of the company’s financial crisis is beginning to unfold in the wider business landscape.

Signa, one of the co-owners of British department store Selfridges, is understood to be bringing in restructuring experts to help navigate the situation it has found itself in, ultimately casting doubt over its future with the luxury store chain.

However, concern had also been raised in the media with regards to its ongoing sales process with UK-based Frasers Group, which is looking to takeover German sports retailer, SportScheck.

Initially announced just weeks ago, Frasers plan to acquire the company, formerly owned by Signa Retail Department Store Holding GmbH, came as part of its strategy to grow and expand its sports business in the EMEA region.

While the deal, currently expected to close by the first quarter of 2024, had been thrust into question 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.

“We undoubtedly note the news from our shareholder – the Signa Group – and the developments there with concern. We are currently not affected by these developments, even if the market suspects otherwise.”

Central reinstates support for European businesses

The status of Signa’s business as a whole had come into question after a number of its subsidiaries, including Signa Sports United, filed for bankruptcy in late October, with the group stating that it was planning to pursue a “structured (separate) investor process” for the companies involved.

It was later reported that Signa’s founder and chairman, René Benko, had been ousted by shareholders, while rumours of financial turmoil continued circulating.

Such doubt led Central Group, the Thailand-based firm that bought Selfridges alongside Signa last year, to reconfirm its commitment to the portfolio it shares with Signa, which also includes German department store KaDeWe.

In a statement to WWD, Central said that it was a “proven long-term owner and investor in all of its businesses,” and “regardless of the positive of our joint venture partner,” it was committed to supporting its European stores.

It added: “We will ensure that they have all the backing they require to continue to operate as normal.”

Frasers Group