LONDON: Shoppers carry Selfridges bags as they walk past Selfridges flagship store on Oxford street in central London. — AFP

LONDON: British department store chain Selfridges Group has been put up for sale by Canada’s Weston family for £4.0 billion ($5.5 billion, 4.7 billion euros), media reports said Monday. Credit Suisse has been appointed to start looking for a buyer, Britain’s domestic Press Association newsire reported without citing its source. Several suitors have expressed an interest but no formal bid has yet been tabled, it added. Neither Selfridges nor the Weston family would comment when approached by AFP.

Selfridges, whose flagship store is on London’s Oxford Street, was founded in 1908 but has been controlled by the Westons since 2003. The group has 25 outlets worldwide under five brands, including De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands, Holt Renfrew in Canada and Selfridges in Britain.

Department stores, like the broader retail sector, have been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic which pushed consumers to shop online. Selfridges itself cut 450 jobs a year ago after sales slumped during England’s nationwide lockdown, which was fully lifted a week ago. UK rival Debenhams meanwhile collapsed at the end of last year, with the loss of thousands of jobs.

John Lewis Partnership meanwhile announced plans to slash 1,000 management jobs this month, having already axed 16 stores during the pandemic with the loss of 2,800 positions. High street retailers were already struggling before the COVID outbreak due to intense competition from supermarkets and online giants like Amazon. – AFP