KaDeWe building
Photo by Tripadvisor

Central Group Acquires Iconic German Department Stores in Major Deal

In a significant business move, the Thai conglomerate Central Group has taken over the operational reins of Germany’s prestigious department stores KaDeWe (Berlin), Oberpollinger (Munich), and Alsterhaus (Hamburg). The German Press Agency reported that a contract sealing this deal was signed on Friday, though the purchase price remains undisclosed.

The acquisition is pending antitrust approval and discussions with landlords regarding rental terms for the Munich and Hamburg locations. Notably, Central Group had already acquired the KaDeWe building in Berlin in April for a whopping one billion euros.

Prior to this full acquisition, Central Group already held a controlling 50.1% stake in the KaDeWe Group, while the remaining 49.9% was owned by the now-insolvent Signa group, headed by Austrian investor René Benko. Despite Signa’s financial troubles and filing for insolvency in January, the department stores have continued their operations seamlessly.

The Central Group, led by the affluent Chirathivat family, ranks among Thailand’s wealthiest, with Forbes estimating their fortune at $12.4 billion (€11.4 billion) in 2023. The Bangkok-based conglomerate’s extensive portfolio includes supermarkets, department store chains, hotels, and restaurants. Beyond its German interests, Central Group has stakes in prominent international department stores such as La Rinascente in Italy, Selfridges in the UK, and Globus in Switzerland.

The KaDeWe (“Department Store of the West”), inaugurated in 1907, stands as a symbol of luxury and consumerism. With 60,000 square meters of shopping space in Berlin’s heart, it attracts not only affluent shoppers but also thousands of tourists daily.

This acquisition marks a new chapter for these iconic German stores, blending rich European retail history with the expansive vision of one of Asia’s leading retail giants. As Central Group navigates the intricacies of antitrust regulations and rental agreements, the future looks promising for KaDeWe, Oberpollinger, and Alsterhaus, poised to benefit from the strategic direction and substantial investments of their new Thai owners.

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