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Thai group takes control of Selfridges

BANGKOK (AFP)Thailand’s Central Group has taken over ownership of historic British department store Selfridges after its Austrian partner hit financial difficulties.

Central said Tuesday it has converted a loan into equity to become the majority shareholder in the Selfridges Group, which also includes De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands and Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland.

The move comes days after its crisis-hit co-owner Signa said it faced restructuring following liquidity problems.

A woman passes by British department store Selfridges in London. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Central Group, founded by the Chinese-Thai Chirathivat business clan in 1927, has grown to become a multinational conglomerate with a sprawling retail and property portfolio.

It bought Italy’s luxury department store Rinascente in 2011 and the Selfridges Group for GBP4 billion in partnership with Signa in 2021.

“Central Group will become the majority shareholder and gain control of the joint-venture company for the operating companies within the Selfridges Group,” Central said in its statement.

“The move solidifies Central Group as an owner-operator of the largest European luxury department store group offering customers the best curation of brands, merchandise, and extraordinary experiences.”

Signa — which owns the Chrysler building in New York — will present restructuring plans by the end of the month, it said on Friday.