Thailand’s Central Group, Austria's Signa buy Swiss retailer Globus for $1 billion

06, Feb. 2020

(Image courtesy of Central Group)
(Image courtesy of Central Group)

BANGKOK, NNA – Thailand’s Central Group and Austrian billionaire Rene Benko’ss Signa Holding GmbH have formed a joint venture to buy Swiss luxury department store chain Globus Switzerland for over $1 billion francs ($1 billion).

The 50:50 alliance of the two retail-and-property giants will further expand their presence in upscale retail in Europe. The Globus deal also includes eight associated prime properties including a hotel in Switzerland from Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund (MGB).

The new owners aim to transform Globus into the leading luxury department store group in Switzerland with a strong Swiss identity, said Central Group in a statement.

Globus chain's flagship store in Zurich is well known for its gourmet market, sophisticated boutiques, beauty and lifestyle products - which is quite in line with the businesses of both conglomerates.

In Europe, Signa and Central Group are joint owners of Germany’s KaDeWe Group whose crown jewel in Berlin is the Kadewe, an innovative store offering exciting new retail and dining concepts with luxury brands and the biggest gourmet food hall in the city. The partners also have upcoming projects in Düsseldorf and Vienna.

With the acquisition of Globus, the combined presence of Signa and Central Group will span five countries in the continent – Germany, Austria, Italy, Denmark and Switzerland – making them leading operators and owners of luxury department stores in Europe, said a statement from Central Group, which also owns nine Rinascente stores in Italy and Denmark’s Illum.

“For the acquisition of Globus Switzerland, the deal is a joint venture between Central Group and SIGNA, our incumbent partner in the KaDeWe Group, and a new project in Vienna. The transaction includes the purchase of prime Swiss properties and a hotel, worth over ₣1 billion altogether,” said Tos Chirathivat, executive chairman and CEO of Central Group.

Since entering Europe in 2011 after acquiring Rinascente, Central Group's business in Europe has grown from 200 million euros ($220 million) then to a projected 2 billion euros this year.

"Today, we are operating 19 cities in five European countries, plus two under development in Düsseldorf and Vienna. Eight of which will be flagship stores. We are now one of the largest luxury retailers in Europe," said the statement from the family-owned Central Group.

Reinvention for Globus

Like Kadewe, Globus boasts a history of over a century. Opened in 1892, it was Switzerland’s first department store. But in recent years, the chain like many retail operators in Europe has been facing increasing pressure from online shopping.

The new owners will refresh the retail concepts at Globus following the success of Kadewe's reinvention to stay relevant with the times.

Speaking on behalf of Central Group and Signa, Vittorio Radice, CEO of Central Group Europe, said Globus is a "perfect fit for our European alliance."

He added, "Working with the KaDeWe Group, Rinascente and Illum, Globus will benefit from the know-how and experience necessary to develop and drive the department store of today."

Fabrice Zumbrunnen, chairman of the Migros Executive Board (MGB) expressed confidence that Globus will be able to benefit from the "extensive know-how and substantial experience" of Signa and Central Group as they "operate some of Europe’s best luxury department stores."