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Selfridges: A Timeless Shopping Experience

CEO Tinh Phung
Selfridges is not just a department store; it's an institution that has been providing a unique shopping experience for over a century. Founded in 1908 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, this upscale retail chain has become...

Selfridges is not just a department store; it's an institution that has been providing a unique shopping experience for over a century. Founded in 1908 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, this upscale retail chain has become synonymous with luxury and innovation in the United Kingdom. With its flagship store located on Oxford Street in London, Selfridges has cemented its position as one of the largest and most iconic shops in the country.

A Journey Through History

Selfridges has a rich history that reflects the visionary mindset of its founder. Harry Gordon Selfridge revolutionized the concept of department stores by creating a space where shopping became a delightful adventure rather than a mundane chore. He believed in making customers feel welcome and comfortable, offering them a social and cultural experience unlike any other.

One of Selfridge's groundbreaking marketing strategies was the emphasis on creating a welcoming environment. He placed merchandise on display for customers to explore and introduced the idea of a perfume counter as a centerpiece on the ground floor. Selfridge was also known for his customer-centric approach, coining the phrase "the customer is always right," which has become a mantra for many businesses to this day.

Selfridges Selfridges at the Trafford Centre, which opened in 1998

During its early years, Selfridges played host to various remarkable events. From exhibitions of cutting-edge technology, such as Louis Blériot's monoplane and John Logie Baird's demonstration of moving silhouette images on television, to the creation of terraced gardens, cafes, and even a mini golf course on the store's roof, Selfridges constantly pushed the boundaries of what a department store could offer.

Architectural Marvels

Selfridges' commitment to innovation extends beyond its merchandise. The store's architectural designs have also captivated visitors from around the world. The original London store, designed by Daniel Burnham, showcases steel cage frame construction—a pioneering technique in early 20th-century London. The distinctive polychrome sculpture above the Oxford Street entrance, created by British sculptor Gilbert Bayes, adds a touch of artistic grandeur.

In Birmingham, Selfridges enlisted the architectural firm Future Systems to design a store like no other. Covered in 15,000 spun aluminium discs against a backdrop of Yves Klein Blue, the Birmingham store is a testament to the brand's commitment to architectural excellence. It has been recognized as one of the top 100 stores to visit worldwide by industry magazine Retail Week.

Selfridges Detail of sculpture above the London store's entrance

Unforgettable Windows

Selfridges' windows have become iconic in their own right. From the very beginning, Harry Gordon Selfridge understood the power of visual storytelling. He used the windows as a stage for captivating displays, covered by silk curtains until the grand unveiling on opening day. These theatrical window designs continue to capture the imagination of passersby and shoppers alike.

The store's windows have witnessed a range of artistic initiatives throughout the years. One notable example was when Selfridges covered its scaffolding during a restoration with a giant photograph of Sir Elton John, showcasing the fusion of art and commerce. Another memorable window display featured a Kate Moss-designed Paddington Bear statue, auctioned to raise funds for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

A Shopper's Paradise

Selfridge's commitment to providing a unique shopping experience is unwavering. The store has remained a cultural and social phenomenon, offering customers a curated selection of luxury items and exclusive brands. Selfridges continues to innovate by embracing new trends, such as offering luxury pieces for rent through a partnership with an online fashion rental platform.

In December 2021, Selfridges was acquired by Thai conglomerate Central Group and Austria's Signa Holding, a partnership that will propel the brand into the future. This change in ownership promises to build on the legacy of Selfridges while bringing new opportunities to expand its reach.

Whether you are seeking the latest fashion trends , indulging in gourmet delights, or simply immersing yourself in a world of luxury, Selfridges is the ultimate destination. Step into this timeless shopping haven and discover a world of endless possibilities.

References

  1. Selfridges Retail Limited
  2. Selfridges Group
  3. The Guardian: "Selfridges sold to Thai conglomerate and Austrian property firm"
  4. The Daily Telegraph: "Selfridges sold to Asian shopping mall firm Central Group for £4bn"
  5. Mr Selfridge (ITV): TV series dramatizing Selfridge's early history
  6. Wonder Woman (2017): A movie featuring Selfridges as a prominent location
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