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Selfridges Sees Slowing Growth Amid Heavy Investment

The investment in experiential and digital offerings has boosted sales but also hit operating profit at the UK retailer.
Selfridges' new Accessories Hall, which it touts as the largest in the world | Source: Courtesy
By
  • Rachel Deeley

LONDON, United Kingdom — Selfridges has posted full-year results ended February 2019, with the luxury department store delivering £1.85 billion ($2.25 billion) in sales, up 6 percent from the previous year. 

While the UK high street and department stores on both sides of the Atlantic have been struggling under the so-called "retail apocalypse," Selfridges has benefited from a focused brick-and-mortar presence in London, Manchester and Birmingham, as well as an emphasis on bolstering shoppers' retail experience with restaurants, beauty services, a permanent skate bowl and, as of November 2019, a cinema. It also cited destination restaurants Brasserie of Light and EL&N as performing particularly well this period.

Historically, Selfridges has been outperforming its UK competitors in terms of its return on investment in store modernisation. Comparative retailers such as Harrods and Harvey Nichols have not yet released financial results for the same period.

The company has invested heavily in its experiential and digital offering, which appears to have boosted its sales. However, this spending has also impacted operating profits, which were £170 million, down 6 percent from the previous year. Selfridges could not be reached for comment at the time of publication of this article. 

Selfridges’ growth has been slowing in recent years. In the fiscal year 2016-2017, it posted a record 16 percent increase in sales from the year earlier, alongside an operating profit of £180 million. For the year ending 3 February 2018, sales hit £1.75 billion, up 11.5 percent, and operating profit only slightly increased to £181 million. 

August 2018 saw the completion of its London flagship store's Accessories Hall. Part of a £300 million investment, the 60,000 square foot space includes a 4,000 square foot eyewear department and the art-centric refurbishment of its Duke Street entrance. Further afield, the department store chain recently opened a Beauty Hall and expanded its Accessories Hall in Manchester. 

Selfridges has also been investing in its digital services, which it says helped fuel its sales growth this fiscal year, including an Android app, a Chinese-language site and delivery subscription model Selfridges Plus. 

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