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Thailand’s Central Group plans $1.3bn push in Europe after Selfridges

Thailand’s biggest retailer Central Group said on Tuesday it planned to expand its footprint in Europe further with investments worth nearly US$1.29 billion over five years in new stores, upgrades and e-commerce.

Central has budgeted 900 million euros to invest in three projects in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, a company spokesperson said, with an additional 375 million euros allocated over the next five years to upgrade existing stores.

Other plans also include expanding its e-commerce sales in Europe from the current level of 17 per cent of total sales, or 1 billion euros, the company said.

We will expand partnerships with luxury brands in major tourist cities and push our e-commerce presence in Europe with Selfridges.com, CEO Tos Chirathivat said.

This year total department stores sales will hit $6.67 billion, the company said in a statement.

Central and Austrian real estate company Signa Group announced the purchase of Selfridges, best known for its Oxford Street store in London, last year for 4 billion pounds.

The transaction closed in August adding the department store to Central’s growing European presence, which already includes the Rinascente in Italy, Illum in Denmark and Germany’s KaDeWe.

“Our department store business has achieved a remarkable milestone of having the world’s largest international presence,” said Tos, noting the group now spanned 11 countries in 120 locations.

The 75-year-old company, which started as a small bookstore in Bangkok’s old town, was among the first companies to introduce department stores in Thailand.

It is owned by the billionaire Chirathivat family, which Forbes ranks as Thailand’s 5th richest family.

  • Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Ed Davies

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