Selfridges’ new owners have revealed major plans for their flagship Oxford Street site, including the possibility of opening an upmarket hotel or the development of serviced apartment buildings.
The Westons, a billionaire family, purchased the retailer on Christmas Eve for four billion pounds in a joint venture with Signa Holding, an Austrian property company, and Thailand’s Central Group. Each took a 50% stake in the venture.
Signa’s executive chair Dieter Berninghaus spoke with the Financial Times about the possible plans for the area. He stated that the purchase price “merely reflects the value of the main Selfridges Building and its retail utilisation.”
Berninghaus stated that serviced apartments have a significant upside potential and suggested a plan to trade up the food court, which is a core competence of Signa.
Since 2008, a portion of Selfridges’ Oxford Street location is empty. This was an area that used to house a hotel, but has since been used for temporary activations such as a skating rink.
Signa also owns the luxury Swiss stores KaDeWe, Globus and digital fashion mall Mybestbrands.
The Central Group is partnering with it in this joint venture. Retail in the UK is facing difficulties due to covid-19, which has seen many department stores close and face harsh conditions.
Debenhams was one of the few that survived when it went bankrupt last year. Boohoo, the fashion giant, eventually bought it. This strategy led to the closing of all physical stores. Many of these locations remain vacant even though they have been closed for over a year.
CoStar Group, a commercial real estate information company, has compiled data showing that Britain lost 83 percent of its major department stores in the last five years. This was due to both changing shopping habits as well as the pandemic. In August, the study revealed that 237 large stores had not been taken over by new businesses. This is in keeping with the struggling atmosphere on the UK’s high streets.
Oxford Street was also plagued by problems, with many vacant units at this popular shopping spot. Local councils recently launched new initiatives with the goal of increasing foot traffic and diversifying the retail offerings.
The pop-up program, which was launched in May 2021, welcomed small-scale businesses and start-ups from around the country to the vacant retail space in this prestigious area.