Harrods in London
Harrods is an upmarket department store located in Brompton Road in Brompton, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London. The Harrods brand also applies to other enterprises undertaken by the Harrods group of companies including Harrods Bank, Harrods Estates, Harrods Aviation and Air Harrods, and to Harrods Buenos Aires, sold by Harrods in 1922 and closed , with plans announced to reopen in 2013.
The store occupies a 5 acre site and has over one million square feet of selling space in over 330 departments. The UK's second-biggest shop, Oxford Street's Selfridges, is a little over half the size with 540000 sqft of selling space.
The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique—All Things for All People, Everywhere. Several of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas department and the Food Hall, are world famous.
Throughout its history, the store has had a total of five owners. On 8 May 2010, Mohamed Al-Fayed sold the store to Qatar Holdings for .
Harrods founder Charles Henry Harrod first established his business in 1824, aged 25. The business was located south of the River Thames in Southwark. The premises were located at 228 Borough High Street. He ran this business, variously listed as a Draper, Mercer and Haberdasher, certainly until 1831. During 1825 the business was listed as 'Harrod and Wicking, Linen Drapers, Retail', but this partnership was dissolved at the end of that year. His first grocery business appears to be as ‘Harrod & Co.Grocers’ at 163 Upper Whitecross Street, Clerkenwell, E.C.1., in 1832. In 1834 in London's East End, he established a wholesale grocery in Stepney, at 4, Cable Street, with a special interest in tea. In 1849, to escape the vice of the inner city and to capitalise on trade to the Great Exhibition of 1851 in nearby Hyde Park, Harrod took over a small shop in the district of Brompton, on the site of the current store. Beginning in a single room employing two assistants and a messenger boy, Harrod's son Charles Digby Harrod built the business into a thriving retail operation selling medicines, perfumes, stationery fruit, and vegetables. Harrods rapidly expanded, acquired the adjoining buildings, and employed one hundred people by 1880.
However, the store's booming fortunes were reversed in early December 1883, when it burnt to the ground. Remarkably, in view of this calamity, Charles Harrod fulfilled all of his commitments to his customers to make Christmas deliveries that year—and made a record profit in the process. In short order, a new building was built on the same site, and soon Harrods extended credit for the first time to its best customers, among them Oscar Wilde, Lillie Langtry, Ellen Terry, Charlie Chaplin, Noël Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Sigmund Freud, A. A. Milne, and many members of the British Royal Family.
On Wednesday, 16 November 1898, Harrods debuted England's first "moving staircase" (escalator) in their Brompton Road stores; the device was actually a woven leather conveyor belt-like unit with a mahogany and "silver plate-glass" balustrade. Nervous customers were offered brandy at the top to revive them after their 'ordeal'. The department store was purchased by the Fayed brothers in 1985.
The sale was concluded in the early hours of 8 May, when Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani came to London to finalise the deal, saying that the acquisition of Harrods would add "much value" to the investment portfolio of Qatar Holdings while his deputy, Hussain Ali Al-Abdulla, called it a "landmark transaction". A spokesman for Al-Fayed said "in reaching the decision to retire, [Fayed] wished to ensure that the legacy and traditions that he has built up in Harrods would be continued."
Al-Fayed later revealed in an interview that he decided to sell Harrods following the difficulty in getting his dividend approved by the trustee of the Harrods pension fund. Al-Fayed said "I'm here every day, I can't take my profit because I have to take a permission of those bloody idiots...I say is this right? Is this logic? Somebody like me? I run a business and I need to take bloody fucking trustee's permission to take my profit" Al-Fayed was appointed honorary chairman of Harrods, a position he will hold for at least six months. the other warrants were removed from Harrods by Al-Fayed in December, pending their five yearly review. The Duke of Edinburgh had been banned from Harrods by Al-Fayed. Film of the burning of the warrants in 2009 was shown in the final scene of Unlawful Killing a film funded by Al-Fayed and directed by Keith Allen.
The second memorial, unveiled in 2005 and located by the Egyptian escalator at door three is titled "Innocent Victims", is a bronze statue of the two dancing on a beach beneath the wings of an albatross. The albatross is a bird that is said to symbolise the "Holy Spirit". The sculpture was created by 80 year old Bill Mitchell who is a close friend of Al-Fayed and has been the artistic design advisor to Harrods for 40 years. Mr. Al-Fayed said he wanted to keep the pair's "spirit alive" through the statue.
After the death of Michael Jackson, Al-Fayed announced that they had already been discussing plans to build a memorial statue of the singer. The statue of Michael Jackson has now been created, but will now be placed at Craven Cottage football ground following the sale of Harrods.
Since 1989 Harrods has a dress code policy and has turned away several people who it believes are not dressed appropriately. These include a soldier in uniform, a scout troop, a woman with a mohican hair cut, a fifteen stone woman and FC Shakhtar Donetsk's first team for wearing tracksuits.
Harrods and Mohamed Fayed have been criticised for selling real animal fur with regular protests organised outside Harrods. Harrods is the only department store in Britain that has continued to sell fur. Harrods was sharply criticised in 2004 by the Hindu community for marketing a line of feminine underwear (designed by Roberto Cavalli) which featured the images of South-Asian goddesses. The line was eventually withdrawn and formal apologies were made. Harrods has been criticised as "deeply sexist" for making female employees wear six kinds of makeup at all time without requiring this of male employees.
- Harrods Buenos Aires
- Jenners, known as the "Harrods of the North"
- Guinness World Records 2007, published by Guinness (8 August 2006),