Despite financial problems at its co-owner Signa, Selfridges Group and its Dutch subsidiary De Bijenkorf are not (yet) for sale. Rumours about an imminent sale seem premature, but there may be a change in shareholding.
Quite a few recent articles have hinted at a sale of department store group Selfridges, after one of its owners has run into major financial problems. An article in British newspaper The Times lit the fuse last weekend, claiming that property investment fund Signa Holding, which has owned Selfridges together with Thai retail holding company Central Group since last summer, is in a pretty bad state.
Some parts of the holding company have already gone bankrupt and CEO René Benko, a flamboyant Austrian billionaire, was forced to resign as shareholders want to make way for a crisis manager. The fund could potentially divest some stakes, including that in Selfridges Group.
However, this is far from certain, and it does not in any way mean that the British department store group is now up for sale: indeed, co-owner Central Group has already announced that it will continue to support Selfridges. The British retailer itself also says nothing will change now. It is possible that the Thai group will become the sole shareholder, or it might seek a new financial partner. Signa and Central Group also jointly own well-known luxury department stores such as Rinascente in Italy, Illum in Denmark, KaDeWe, Oberpollinger and Alsterhaus in Germany and Globus in Switzerland.
Selfridges, incidentally, is not the only subsidiary causing a headache for Signa: the holding company also owns the ailing German department store chain Galeria, which is undergoing a painful restructuring led by Belgian Olivier Van den Bossche. Belgian Inno, a part of the group since 2001, is indeed in the shop window: the company confirmed as much in October. With the sale, Galeria hopes to pay off part of its heavy debt burden.