Britain’s luxury department store chain Selfridges, famed for its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street, was snapped up by a Thai-Austrian alliance for £4.0 billion in a Christmas Eve deal that will create a global giant. Selfridges, whose stores normally throng with gift-hunting shoppers over the festive holiday, has been sold by Canada’s Weston family to Thai retail giant Central Group and Austrian property firm Signa, the groups announced in a statement. The price, equivalent to $5.4 billion or 4.7 billion euros, was not officially disclosed but was confirmed by a source close to the matter. The blockbuster deal however comes amid growing unease over the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant on the bricks-and-mortar retail sector, which has already been hit hard by the long-running pandemic. “Central, a family-owned retail, real estate and hospitality group and Signa, one of Europe’s leading real estate and retail groups, have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Selfridges Group, a leading luxury retail group, from the Weston family,” read the statement. The transaction “will create a complementary portfolio of leading European luxury department stores” and “will create one of the world’s leading omni-channel luxury department store groups”, the statement said. The purchase comprises 18 leading department stores including Selfridges in London, Manchester and Birmingham, as well as de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands, and Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland.