Selfridges to buck the high street gloom

City A.M. Reporter
SELFRIDGES, the British chain of high-end department stores, will this week report a surge in profits thanks to the resilience of the luxury goods market.

The company, which is owned by Canadian billionaire Galen Weston, is expected to report a 19 per cent jump in profits later this week, after sales at is stories in London, Birmingham and Manchester increased by 11 per cent to £950m in the year to January.

Managing director Anne Pitcher said the company had bucked the downturn in consumer spending by mixing cheap brands such as Primark with the luxury labels for which it is best known.

In recent weeks, the company has added high-end concessions such as Prada, Dior and Tom Ford to its menswear offering while also introducing brands that appeal to the value conscious consumer, such as Cheap Monday and Primark.

The group’s success is also likely down to its popularity with high net worth tourists, who are flocking to London to take advantage of the weak pound and high levels of choice.

Despite a worsening consumer outlook, which has seen middle-market retailers such as Argos owner Home Retail group fall upon hard times, the luxury sector is still booming.

Last month, LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods company, posted forecast-beating third-quarter sales growth and said it was bullish for the rest of 2011.

Selfridges also attributed its success to its innovative window displays and customer experience, with Pritchard saying other retailers might be faring better if they had more “entertaining and inspiring” shops.

In 2003, the Selfridges chain was acquired for £598m by Canada’s Weston, a retailing expert who is the owner of department store chains such as Holt Renfrew and Brown Thomas as well as major supermarket chains in Canada.

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