Selfridges owners reportedly mull sale with £4bn price tag
Selfridges is reportedly up for sale — or at least its owners are exploring their options — after a mystery buyer approached the business with an offer, reports claimed on Friday.
The controlling Weston family is believed to be seeking around £4 billion for the operation that cost them £598 million back in 2003. Reports said Credit Suisse is acting as adviser on the process.
No deal is guaranteed and the family hasn’t commented on the reports.
The group includes the UK Selfridges department stores, Ireland’s Brown Thomas and Arnotts, and Netherlands-based De Bijenkorf. It’s unclear whether the entire group would be sold, but it’s believed that the UK and Irish stores do form part of the talks.
React News first reported the story and said that half the value of any £4 billion deal would be accounted for by the group’s real estate, which includes prime positions in key shopping hubs.
The company has just come through one of its toughest 15 months in the 113-year history of the Selfridges name after its stores were closed for long periods due to lockdowns, and tourism ground to a halt. The impact saw it cutting a raft of jobs last year.
That said, profits have more than doubled at the group since the Westons took the business over and sales have risen more than 80%. Sales in its most recently reported business year (the 12 months before the pandemic) reached £1.97 billion.
There’s no hint as to the identity of the mystery bidder but the approach is likely to have come from outside the UK. Prestige department stores in Britain have been popular assets for international bidders over the years and currently, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Liberty are all owned by international entities.
Selfridges, despite its problems last year, remains a highly prized asset. It’s a destination retailer and when tourism is operating normally, is a magnet for international visitors.
The group is owned by the Weston family through Wittington Investments. A source familiar with the business told the FT that it’s surprising the family is entertaining a sale, but the firm’s heavy dependence on the overseas tourism that could take some time to bounce back may be behind its apparent willingness to enter talks.
The executive also said a sale to a sovereign wealth fund or mega-rich individual was more likely than a private equity takeover.
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