Qatar-owned Harrods to undergo multi-million refurbishment

Harrods, the luxury London department store bought by Qatar in 2010, is set to undertake a multi-million refurbishment as part of the Gulf state’s investment in the iconic brand.

The main focus of the revamp will be focus on the infamous escalator, which was installed by previous Egyptian owner Mohamed Al Fayed and is believed to have been the first of its kind in the UK.

The new escalator will cover seven floors of the store and other improvements will include the restoration of the copper cladding and lighting globes and the installation of a glass chandelier centrepiece designed in the US by Dale Chihuly, The Telegraph newspaper reported.

“When Harrods’ owners, Qatar Holding, took over the business in May 2010, they publicly declared their desire to ‘upgrade the monument’ that is Harrods for all its customers,” Michael Ward, the managing director of Harrods, was quoted as saying.

“This latest investment reaffirms their commitment to maintaining Harrods’ status as Britain’s greatest retail destination, and our customers can look forward to an optimised shopping experience.”

Sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holdings bought the Knightsbridge store in 2010 for a reported £1.5bn ($2.4bn).

Last year, Arabian Business reported Harrods’ new owners have spent £32.7m ($50m) upgrading the store, installing 150 video screens designed to display the very latest in luxury advertising, adding six new restaurant spaces, a new luxury watch room late and payment systems that accept Chinese credit cards.

“There are a lot of areas in Harrods that are more geared around domestic tourists and that may change as the UK domestic tourist drops off and international tourism grows – I think capitalising on that is key,” Jonathan De Mello, retail analyst at London-based CBRE said in January 2012.

“It’s not just a case of [attracting] Middle East or Gulf customers; it’s also a wider expansion to…high-net-worth individuals in growing markets; the Chinese, the Nigerians and the Thais are apparently the next big thing in relation to growth customers.”

In July 2012 it was reported Qatar Holding is planning to expand the Harrods name and open a series of Harrods-branded hotels around the world, including New York, Paris, London, Kuala Lumpur, China and Italy.

The first hotel will be a 300-room hotel in Bukit Bintang, the shopping and entertainment district of downtown Kuala Lumpur and was part of a $635m deal announced today in the Malaysian capital.


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