Is Signa separating from Selfridges?

Signa and the Thai retail group Central Group have been the owners of the British luxury department store operator Selfridges Group for just over a year, and now this joint ownership could be coming to an end.

The Austrian conglomerate, which, like the Central Group, holds fifty percent of the Selfridges Group, is said to have doubts about these shares, reports the British newspaper The Times. Accordingly, the Selfridges shares that Signa holds could be sold.

Current liquidity bottlenecks at Signa founder René Benko are said to have already led to interruptions in the group’s construction projects. This includes, among other things, the construction work on the Elbtower and the new KaDeWe Group location Carsch-Haus in Düsseldorf. Signa also shares the German luxury department store operator with the Central Group. In addition, the online sporting goods retailer Signa Sports United NV (SSU) had to file for bankruptcy after Signa withdrew its financing commitment.

Meanwhile, according to Signa shareholder Hans Peter Haselsteiner, Benko is said to be ready to withdraw as chairman from the advisory board of Signa Holding GmbH. The reason for this could also be that shareholders of the real estate holding company are turning against him, reported the German Press Agency news agency.

Selfridges sale as part of Signa redevelopment

In order to advance the restructuring of the Signa Group, which could also result in the sale of the Selfridges shares, the shareholders are said to have asked Benko to appoint Arndt Geiwitz as general representative. The German restructuring expert, who was also active in the insolvency proceedings of the Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof department store chain, which belongs to Signa, is currently in the process of getting an overview of the Austrian holding company.

The takeover of Selfridges Group by Signa and Central was completed in mid-August 2022, after it was announced at the end of the previous year. They bought the luxury department store operator, which, in addition to the retailer of the same name, also includes De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands and Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, from the Canadian Weston family of entrepreneurs. At that time there were still big plans for the Selfridges flagship on London’s Oxford Street, which included the possible opening of a luxury hotel. It remains to be seen what will happen with these plans and with the Selfridges shares that Signa holds.

Signa did not respond to a request from FashionUnited by the time this article was published. This can be updated with a statement at a later date.