LONDON – Selfridges has changed hands once again after nearly 20 years of ownership by the forward-thinking and sustainable Weston family.
Here, WWD highlights some of the key moments in the UK retailer’s 113-year history, as well as its colorful owners and managers, starting with founder Harry Gordon Selfridge.
1906: The son of a small-town storekeeper, Harry Gordon Selfridge worked his way up the ranks of Chicago retailer Marshall Field & Co. There, he innovated by lighting up the store at night and opening a restaurant where women could have lunch, which was not open. Selfridge is also credited with coining the phrase, “The customer is always right.”
He later married an American heiress named Rosalie Buckingham, and made a lot of money. In 1906, he went to London with his wife and was completely unimpressed with the city’s shopping scene. He recognized an opportunity.
1909: After founding the company, Selfridges Retail Ltd., in 1908, Selfridge opened a mall on London’s Oxford Street, designed by American architect Daniel Burnham. Selfridge invested £400,000 – the equivalent of £50m today – and built the shop at the unfashionable end of Oxford Street.
Selfridge’s innovative approach to retail led him to include planes and controversial tango dancers on the show, all with the aim of making shopping fun. He was the first to set up a beauty department on the ground floor – deftly masking the smell of manure from the carriage. He also opened a pet shop and at the time, the largest bookstore in the world.
In 1926: The Selfridge Provincial Stores were formed, bringing together the various businesses acquired by Selfridge in 1918.
1940: Selfridge province stores were sold to the John Lewis Partnership, which operates the John Lewis & Partners department stores and Waitrose & Partners supermarkets.
1951: British department store chain Lewis’s of Liverpool bought Selfridges for £3.4 million, or about $153 million in current value.
In 1965: Lewis’s was sold to the Sears Group, owned by Charles Clore, for £63 million, or $1.77 billion at current exchange rates.
In 1979: Roy Northway Stephens becomes CEO and CEO of Selfridges, highlighting its sleepy image and evoking the spirit of Harry Gordon Selfridge by providing entertainment and spectacle. Sears asked Stephens to upgrade the store to luxury, and Stephens describes his new job as “realizing a dream.”
During his tenure, he dedicated store windows to “Star Wars,” when a sequel to “The Empire Strikes Back” was released in the UK in 1980; invited the Muppets and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the Christmas Grotto, and attracted a host of celebrities and VIPs, including Olympic medalist Sebastian Coe; author Barbara Cartland, and journalist and broadcaster Alan Whicker for personal appearances.
1990: Sears separated Selfridges from Lewis’s, and put Lewis into administration a year later.
In 1996: Vittorio Radice joins Selfridges as chief executive, and under his leadership the department store has seen another impressive resurgence, with multiple takeovers of themed stores, products, and more. special products – and a buzzing atmosphere. Radice left after selling to the Weston family in 2003 and joined Marks & Spencer. He then joined La Rinascente, brought in by Central Group in 2011 for 205 million euros, or $233 million at the time.
1998: Selfridges are classified from Sears and float on the London Stock Exchange. The retailer opens a branch at Manchester’s Trafford Centre.
2002 year: The retailer opened another store in Manchester’s Exchange Square.
2003: Retailer Galen Weston, a member of the Canadian Weston family, bought Selfridges for £598 million, or $1.14 billion at the time, and form Selfridges The group, which eventually included Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, Holt Renfrew in Canada and De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.
Selfridges opened a store at Bullring in Birmingham, England the same year. The store resembles a spaceship and was designed by Future Systems.
2004: Weston’s daughter, Alannah, has been appointed creative director. On her watch, the store opened what was at the time the largest men’s and women’s shoe division in the world, and also launched new design galleries for women and a dedicated men’s space gender. She also presided over the opening of the Room of Wonders, a space nearly 20,000 square feet and selling luxury jewelry, watches and gifts.
2007: British author Lindy Woodhead publishes the book “Shopping, Glamor & Mr. Selfridge” about the wild life of Harry Gordon Selfridge. The book was adapted into a hit television series that ran from 2013 to 2016, starring Jeremy Piven.
2007-18: The store embarks on ambitious refurbishment projects, investing up to £300 million to overhaul the ground floor of its flagship Oxford Street building and build the largest luxury fittings lobby in the world, measuring 60,000 square foot for sale of large and small leather goods, gifts, jewelry and eyeglasses.
During those years, Selfridges also planned an annual themed store takeover to capture the zeitgeist and anticipate a variety of trends. Themes include Radical Luxury, Good Nature, Music Matters, Agender, and Beauty Project.
2018: Selfridges promote the success of the company Paul Kelly, Anne Pitcher and Simon Forster. Pitcher succeeds Kelly as chief executive officer of Selfridges Group.
2019: Alannah becomes president of Selfridges Group, a role formerly held by her father. Her promotion was part of a plan in the family business.
In 2020: Selfridges announces Project Earth, committed to a series of science-based goals. It says that by 2025, the group will ensure all of its “materials with an environmental impact” come from certified sustainable sources.
As part of that plan, the group’s stores are now 100% green powered, while the company has committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 2050 under the Paris Agreement. There is also a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 64% by 2030.
The same year, Andrew Keith joins Selfridges as chief executive officer. Keith was most recently chairman of Lane Crawford and Joyce in Hong Kong, a role he assumed in 2011.
April 2021: Galen Weston passed away at the age of 80. He is survived by his wife Hilary and his children, Alannah Weston Cochrane and Galen Weston Jr.
June 2021: Selfridges Group declined to comment on press reports that it had received an unsolicited offer of more than £4 billion for businesses in the UK and Ireland. It signs off on Credit Suisse to evaluate the offers. Around half of that £4bn is believed to be tied to retail properties.
July 2021: Selfridges confirmed they were looking to sell when advisors at Credit Suisse sent out informational memos to potential investors.
December 2021: Thailand’s Central Group teamed up with Signa in Austria to purchase Selfridges. The purchase of reunion Radice, who is currently an executive at Central Group, with the British retail company.
Central is controlled by the Chirathivat family, and works retail businesses in Thailand and Vietnam as well as Europe. Its holdings include Rinascente in Italy; Illum in Denmark, and KaDeWe, Oberpollinger and Alsterhaus in Germany.
Signa group is an international investment and industrial holding company engaged in the real estate, retail and media businesses. It was founded in 1999, and describes itself as one of Europe’s most important real estate investors.
https://wwd.com/business-news/mergers-acquisitions/a-look-at-selfridges-through-the-ages-1235023003/ A Look at Selfridges Through the Ages – WWD
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