Will Selfridges Change Hands?

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LONDON — Selfridges Group has declined to comment on press reports here that it has received an unsolicited offer of more than 4 billion pounds for its U.K. and Irish businesses, and has signed on Credit Suisse to evaluate offers.

The property website React News first published the report of a significant, unsolicited offer for the store and the retailer’s plans to retain Credit Suisse.

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It is understood that Selfridges often fields offers from third parties, and is under obligation to shareholders to consider them.

The reported offer comes in the wake of the death of Galen Weston at the age of 80 following a long illness. The late Weston had sat at the helm of food, retail and real estate companies in North America, the U.K. and Europe. Among his holdings was Selfridges Group, comprising four stores in the U.K., Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands, and Holt Renfrew in Canada.

He stepped down as chairman of the group two years ago, making way for his daughter, Alannah Weston.

As reported last month, the Weston family, whose holdings include Selfridges, Holt Renfrew and Fortnum & Mason, saw their wealth rise by 470 million pounds to 11 billion pounds over the past year, making them the 10th richest family in the U.K., according to an annual ranking by The Sunday Times of London.

Although Selfridges has been hit by COVID-19 lockdown and social-distancing measures it remains a trend-setting retailer in London, and a destination store, setting a host of collaborations and new concepts.

In the past six weeks alone, since retail was allowed to reopen after the third national lockdown here, Selfridges has opened pop-ups and new spaces for Christopher Kane, Dior, Yasmin Sewell’s new Vyrao fragrance brand and Untapped Creatives, a new platform for British, Black-owned fashion, beauty and homeware businesses.

During lockdown last July, the store laid off 14 percent of its employees, or 450 jobs, and said it was girding for tough times due to the impact of lockdown closures.

At the time, group managing director Anne Pitcher predicted that recovery would be slow, with 2020 sales forecast to be “significantly less” than they were in 2019. She said the store needed to make “fundamental changes,” and has been looking at every aspect of the business, “our structures, our costs, our ways of working — from top to bottom, leaving no stone unturned to ensure we are fit for purpose and the future.”

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