Thai luxury retailer Central Group acquires German department stores

Thai luxury retailer Central Group said Tuesday it will buy a majority stake in three department stores in Germany from Austrian property company Signa Group, speeding up its expansion into Europe.

Privately held Central Group will get a 50.1% stake in the Kaufhaus des Westens, or the KaDeWe, in Berlin, the Oberpollinger in Munich, and the Alsterhaus in Hamburg. The company, controlled by Thailand’s Chirathivat family, did not confirm the value of the investment. Signa will retain the minority stake in the properties.

Central is one of several prominent Thai businesses looking for opportunities overseas as their home economy remains sluggish after years of political upheaval. Others include CP Group, Thai Beverage PCL and private-equity investor Bee Taechaubol, who is negotiating for a stake in soccer team AC Milan from former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Central’s first investment in Europe came in 2011 when it purchased Italian retailer La Rinascente SpA for €205 million ($230 million). The firm also acquired Illum, Denmark’s oldest department store, in 2013.

Chief Executive Tos Chirathivat said “Central Group will continue to acquire additional department stores with strong potential in important European cities,” he said on Tuesday. Earlier this year, Mr. Tos said the company was planning to invest more than $1 billion this year, including in new malls in border towns targeting the expanding consumer class in countries such as Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. He also said Central aims to open a new La Rinascente branch in Italy.

KaDeWe Berlin