Selfridges’ New Thai Owner Central Retail Announces Additional $3B Retail Spending Plan

Robinson store

Thailand department store operator Central Retail, the retail subsidiary of Central Group, announced it will spend $3 billion on store network expansion and refurbishment as well as implementing new technology in its three geographic markets, a report in The Business of Fashion said Friday (Feb. 11).

The technology upgrades will include implementing livestreaming, cryptocurrency payments, the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), gamification, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the metaverse, Central Retail said in its announcement during a presentation this week.

The spending spree is part of Central Retail’s plan to “boost turnover by 2.5 times and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) by 3.5 times over the next five years,” the company said in a statement.

Central Retail will spread the $3 billion across its operations in Thailand, Vietnam and Italy, where it owns the upscale Rinascente department store business, but doesn’t include the Selfridges department store business that Central Group and Austria’s Signa Holding bought for $5 billion in December.

“We aim to be the retailer who truly knows and understands our customers, shaping the future of retail in a way that’s never been done before,” Central Retail Chief Executive Yol Phokasub said in the report.

Central Retail has 23 Central department stores in Thailand and 40 under the mid-range Robinson brand, meaning it’s the biggest chain of its kind in the country. Central Retail had 3,641 branded stores as of Sept. 30, including supermarkets, hypermarkets, sportswear, stationery, electronics and office products, the report says.

Related: Thailand’s Central Group Nearing Selfridges Acquisition

Central Group agreed to acquire U.K. retailer Selfridges from Canada’s billionaire Weston family in December for slightly less than the family’s asking price of about 4 billion pounds ($5.32 billion). The Westons owned Selfridges for almost 20 years, acquiring the brand in 2003 for 598 million pounds (about $796 million).

Central Group is controlled by the billionaire Chirathivat family and is the largest department store chain in Thailand. In addition to Rinascente, it owns European department stores including Germany’s KaDeWe, Swiss group Globus and Denmark’s Illum.