First round bids made in Selfridge’s €4.74b sale

Middle East and Far Eastern groups are among those to have thrown their hat into the ring for UK department store chain, Selfridges.

That is according to sources familiar with the process who confirmed suitors from the Middle East and the Far East have shown interest in the iconic group.

It is also understood that CBRE is the property advisor that has been brought in by Credit Suisse to advise on the real estate valuation. CBRE declined to confirm its involvement or comment on the process.

The Weston family, which own Selfridges, has put a price tag of at least £4bn (€4.74 bn) on the flagship emporium on London’s Oxford Street and stores operating under other names in Ireland. The successful bidder will grab hold of Selfridge’s four stores in the UK – in London, Manchester and Birmingham – along with Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland and De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.

The price tag is said to reflect the value of its property portfolio rather than the strength of current profitability. It’s nearly five times the company’s £852 mln of pre-pandemic sales.

In 2010, Selfridge’s rival Harrods was acquired by the Qatar Investment Authority for £1.5bn. In 2019, Liberty London, another iconic department store, was sold to a consortium of private equity investors for more than £300 mln.

The concept of department store shopping is under fire as consumer demands change. Flagship stores such as Debenhams, John Lewis, and House of Fraser have permanently closed the doors of numerous stores around the UK.

The sale of Selfridges comes at an interesting time when many people ask themselves what the future is for department stores. Without a doubt, the remaining retailers will have to adapt themselves to the needs of the consumers and the rapidly-evolving retail industry.