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Harrods

Harrods is a department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, London, England. 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.

The store occupies a site and has over one million square feet of selling space in over 330 departments. This makes Harrods the largest department store in the world (the UK's second-biggest store, Oxford Street's Selfridges is a little over half the size with 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.

Background

Harrods was established in 1834 in London’s East End, when founder Charles Henry Harrod set up a wholesale grocery in Stepney, with a special interest in tea. In 1849, to escape the filth 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 Knightsbridge, 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 raised on the same site, and soon Harrods extended credit for the first time to its best customers, among them Oscar Wilde, legendary actresses Lilly Langtry and Ellen Terry, Noël Coward, Sigmund Freud, A. A. Milne, and many members of the British royal family.

In 1898, Harrods installed the world's first moving staircase (escalator); nervous customers were offered brandy at the top to revive them after their 'ordeal'.

Significant events in Harrods history

  • 1834: Charles Henry Harrod (1799-1885) founds a wholesale grocery in Stepney, East London
  • 1849: Harrods moves to the Knightsbridge area of London, near Hyde Park
  • 1861: Harrods undergoes a transformation when it was taken over by Harrod's son, Charles Digby Harrod (1841-1905)
  • 1883: On December 6, fire guts the shop buildings, giving the family the opportunity to rebuild on a grander scale
  • 1889: Charles Digby Harrod retires, and Harrods shares are floated on the London Stock Exchange under the name Harrod's Stores Limited
  • 1905: Begun in 1894, the present building is completed to the design of architect Charles William Stephens.
  • 1912: Harrods opens its first and only foreign branch in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It became independent of Harrods in the late 1940s but still traded under the Harrods name.
  • 1914: Harrods purchases the Regent Street department store Dickins & Jones.
  • 1919: Harrods purchases the Manchester department store, Kendals; It took on the Harrods name for a short time in the 1920s, but the name was changed back to Kendals following protests from staff and customers.
  • 1959: The British department store holding company, House of Fraser, buys Harrods.
  • 1969: Christian the lion was bought by John Rendall and Anthony 'Ace' Bourke. The lion was set free in Kenya after reaching maturity.
  • 1983: A high-profile Provisional IRA bomb outside the Knightsbridge store kills six people.
  • 1985: The Fayed brothers buy the store for £615 million.
  • 1994: The relationship between House of Fraser and Harrods is severed. Harrods remains under the ownership of the Fayed family, and House of Fraser is floated on the stock exchange.
  • 1997: The British court issues an injunction to restrain the Buenos Aires Harrods store from trading under the Harrods name.
  • 2006: The Harrods "102" store opens opposite the main store on Brompton Road; it features concessions like Krispy Kreme and Yo! Sushi, as well as florists, a herbalist, a masseur, and an oxygen spa.
  • 2006: Omar Fayed, Mohamed's youngest son, joins the Harrods board.

Products and services

The store's 330 departments offer a wide range of products and services. Products on offer include clothing for every sort of customer (women, men, children, and infants), electronics, jewellery, sporting gear, bridal trousseau, pets and pet accessories, toys, food and drink, health and beauty items, packaged gifts, stationery, housewares, home appliances, furniture, and much more.

A representative sample of store services includes 28 restaurants, serving everything from high tea to tapas to pub food to haute cuisine; a personal shopping-assistance programme known as "By Appointment"; a watch repair service; a tailor; a dispensing pharmacy; a beauty spa and salon; a barbers shop; Harrods Financial Services; Harrods Bank; private events planning and catering; food delivery; a wine steward; bespoke "picnic" hampers and gift boxes; bespoke cakes; and bespoke fragrance formulations.

Up to 300,000 customers visit the store on peak days, comprising the highest proportion of customers from non-English speaking countries of any department store in London. More than five thousand staff from over fifty different countries work at Harrods. A fleet of fifty delivery vehicles make up to 225,000 deliveries every year. Approximately 11,500 energy-efficient light bulbs turn Harrods into a beacon of light each night, 300 of which are replaced every day.

There are also a number of concessions opposite the main store on Brompton Road in 'Harrods 102' such as Turnbull & Asser, HMV, Waterstones, Krispy Kreme and David Clulow Opticians.

Sale of Fur

Harrods and Mohamed Al Fayed have been criticised for selling real animal fur with regular protests organised outside Harrods. Harrods is the only department store in the UK that has continued to sell fur.

Royal warrants

Harrods was the holder of royal warrants from:

Harrods had held The Duke of Edinburgh's warrant since 1956, but it was rescinded by Prince Philip on 21 December 2001 because of a "significant decline in the trading relationship" between the duke and the store.

Al Fayed then pre-emptively removed all the royal coats of arms that had been prominently displayed by the business, even though other warrants were yet to expire or be withdrawn. None of the royal grantors of warrants had spent any money at Harrods since 1997, the year Diana, Princess of Wales, died.

Egyptian Cobra

On 10 September, 2007, Harrods hired a live Egyptian cobra to protect the shoe counter, guarding a £62,000 (€84,880) pair of haute couture ruby-sapphire-and diamond-encrusted sandals launched by designer Rene Caovilla.

Memorials

Since the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed, Mohamed Al Fayed's son, two memorials commissioned by Al Fayed have been erected inside Harrods to the couple. The first, unveiled on April 12, 1998, consists of photographs of the two behind a pyramid-shaped display that holds a wine glass still smudged with lipstick from Diana's last dinner as well as what is described as an engagement ring Dodi purchased the day before they died.

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.


Further reading

References

Notes: References:

External links

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