Mar 1, 2023
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New Selfridges owners take on extra debt

Mar 1, 2023

The new owners of Selfridges — Thailand’s central Group and Austrian’s Signa Group — have very deep pockets. But they’ve still loaded the upscale department stores group with more a billion pounds’ worth of debt.


A report said they’ve added over £1.7 billion of debt to the firm’s balance sheet.

The loans were made via a number of new trading properties as they took control of the business last year, The Telegraph claims.

It said the London branch of Bangkok Bank has provided a loan of £1.7bn secured against the freehold of the historic Selfridges London flagship on Oxford Street.

The consortium reportedly paid around £4 billion for the group and the newspaper said the loan was used to “release capital” for the acquisition, but wasn’t equivalent to the payment of a dividend to the new owners.

It also said another big loan was secured against the Exchange Square, Manchester, Selfridges branch, although the amount of that loan isn’t known.

The previous owners of Selfridges — the Weston family — had also borrowed against the Oxford Street freehold but only to the tune of £550 million.

Using debt to buy a business — a bit like taking out a mortgage to buy a house — is a common strategy and the Issa brothers who acquired Asda took a similar approach. 

But the newspaper said the Selfridges owners reject such comparisons because the amount of debt is much lower in their case and the luxury focus of their business insulates them from many of the current problems facing UK retail.

A spokesman for Selfridges told The Telegraph: “Selfridges enjoyed the best Christmas ever in 2022, and we remain very confident about 2023 and beyond. Our operating environment is unique because customers come to Selfridges for the experience and the pleasure our stores, including digital, offer.”

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