Selfridges’ owner, the Weston family has been seeking about £4 billion for the department store chain, is understood to have agreed terms with Central Group in the last few days and wants to close the deal by the end of the year. According to the Times, which first reported the deal.
The UK retailer owns 25 outlets, including a huge flagship store in London’s Oxford Street, and branches in Dublin, the Netherlands and Canada.
Selfridges was founded in 1908 by US retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge. The chain has been owned by the billionaire Westons for 18 years.
The Weston family put the chain up for sale 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, which is separate from the UK arm of the same name that owns a large stake in Primark-owner Associated British Foods.
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.
Central Group’s non-executive director Vittorio Radice ran Selfridges between 1996 and 2003 and has been managing a department store in Italy since 2006. His role includes responsibility for expansion in Europe.
A division of the group, Central Retail, sparked confusion about whether a Selfridges sale had fallen through when it issued a short stock exchange announcement that it was “not currently involved” with a deal.
However, it is understood the Westons, one of Canada’s richest families, are in talks with a different arm of the giant Central Group company.