New Selfridges owners mull opening additional UK stores
More UK cities could see Selfridges branches opening with new owners Central Group and Signa clearly having ambitious plans for the luxury chain that currently comprises just four stores.
The join venture partners are thinking of debuts in regional cities to take advantage of what should be an upturn once the current cost-of-living crisis ends.
Selfridges in Britain currently operates its original store on Oxford Street in London plus another in Birmingham and two in Manchester.
High-end department store operators had been eyeing fast expansion across the UK in the late 1990s and early years of this century, but for various reasons, took the decision to focus on a smaller number of core stores. Selfridges itself hasn’t opened a new store in the past two decades.
Stefano Della Valle, chief executive of Central Group Europe, told the FT: “Our strategy is not to stay only in capital cities with stores of 20, 30 or 50,000 square metres, but also to be present in second-tier cities or even small cities like St Gallen [in Switzerland].”
He said there are no concrete plans for new UK stores at present but “we are always alive to opportunities, like we were in Germany”. That refers to the work going on for a new store in Düsseldorf to expand from KaDeWe in Berlin and Oberpollinger in Munich.
He added that “we think we are the only viable solution for luxury brands in terms of distribution, so we are interested in being present not only in capital cities but in regional cities,” highlighting to the FT the group’s nine Globus stores in Switzerland and nine Italian Rinascente locations.
PLENTY OF COMPETITION
While he may see Selfridges as the “only viable solution for luxury brands”, rival Harvey Nichols already has stores around the UK and Ireland as well as its London flagship. It has stores in Leeds, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and Dublin. Plus there’s a Harvey Nichols Beauty Bazaar store in Liverpool.
Meanwhile Harrods has only its main London department store but has been opening high-end H Beauty stores around the UK.
And on the fashion front, Frasers Group has been investing heavily in opening branches of its upscale Flannels retail brand. It has plans to open in Leeds, Cardiff, and Gateshead’s Metrocentre following recent debuts in Sheffield Meadowhall, Leicester Fosse Park and Liverpool.
The company has shown that the appetite for upscale fashion and beauty isn’t confined to the biggest cities and isn’t just about targeting international tourists.
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