The new owners of Selfridges have revealed a number of major plans for the Oxford Street flagship site, including the potential opening of an upmarket hotel and the development of serviced apartments.
Billionaire family, the Westons, sold the retailer for a substantial four billion pounds on Christmas Eve, to Thailand’s Central Group and Signa Holding, an Austrian-based property company, who formed a joint venture. Each assumed a 50 percent stake in the venture.
In a conversation with the Financial Times, Signa’s executive chairman Dieter Berninghaus unveiled the potential plans for the location, stating: “The purchase price merely reflects the valuation of the main Selfridges building and its retail utilisation.”
Berninghaus added that the development of serviced apartments holds a “significant upside potential” and further suggested a “plan to trade up the food hall”, which is considered a core competency of Signa.
Part of Selfridges’ Oxford Street location has remained empty since 2008, an area that once housed a hotel and has since only operated temporary activations, such as a skate park.
The Signa group also owns Swiss luxury store Globus and German store, Kadewe, as well as digital fashion mall Mybestbrands, which it acquired back in 2017.
Its joint venture with the Central Group comes as retail in the UK faces difficulty due to covid-19 measures, with many department stores experiencing a harsh environment and closures.
Debenhams was among the unlucky few when it fell into administration last year. It was eventually acquired by fashion giant Boohoo, who initiated a digital-forward strategy, resulting in the closure of all the retailer’s physical stores. One year on, many of those locations continue to remain dormant.
Data compiled by CoStar Group, a commercial property information company, revealed Britain has lost a massive 83 percent of its main department stores over the past five years, caused by both changing shopping habits and the pandemic. The study, released back in August, noted around 237 large stores were yet to be taken over by new businesses, mirroring the struggling atmosphere of the UK high streets.
Oxford Street has also been subject to difficulties, with many empty units located at the popular shopping destination. Recently launched initiatives by local councils have been developed with the intent of increasing footfall in the area and diversifying its retail offering.
A pop-up programme launched in May 2021 continued throughout the year, welcoming small scale businesses and homegrown start-ups to the vacant retail spaces in the esteemed area.