A list of favourite things about London isn’t complete without a background on the famous Harrods department store! Harrods is quite simply the biggest department store in all of Europe, with over one million square feet to it’s size. Without giving too much away, you can expect to see some Harrods influences at this year’s Starlight Gala.
(Image Source: Harrods.com)
The store itself has 330 departments ranging from fashion, beauty to even pets. It remains a very upscale environment that certainly has it’s fair share of history. Check out the store’s timeline as documented on Wikipedia:
1824: Charles Henry Harrod starts his first business as a draper, at 228, Borough High Street, Southwark, London.
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 6 December, 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.
1914: 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 usable only in Argentina Harrods Buenos Aires.
1914: Harrods buys the Regent Street department store Dickins & Jones.
1919: Harrods buys 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 terrorist attack by the Provisional IRA outside the Brompton store kills six people.
1985: The Fayed brothers buy House of Fraser including Harrods Store for £615 million.
1986: The small town of Otorohanga in New Zealand briefly changed its name to Harrodsville in response to legal threats made by Mohamed Al-Fayed against a person with the surname of Harrod, who had used the name “Harrod’s” for his shop.
1990: A Harrods shop opens on board the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, which was then owned by the Walt Disney Company. Harrods gives right to Duty Free International for a licence to operate a Harrods Signature Shop at Toronto Pearson International Airport‘s Terminal 3 (closed shortly after)
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: An English court issues an injunction to restrain the Buenos Aires Harrods store from trading under the Harrods name.
2000: A Harrods shop opens on board the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, owned by the Cunard Line.
2006: The Harrods “102” shop opens opposite the main shop in 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.
2010: Qatar Holdings become the new owners of Harrods, after Fayed announces he has sold the shop. It had been reported that Qatar Holdings paid £1.5 billion for the Knightsbridge store, in a deal signed in the early hours of 8 May 2010.
2010: Harrods looks at the possibility of expanding to China and opening a new shop in Shanghai. Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods, said, “There are other areas of the world where we could operate profitably.” The amount of Chinese shoppers visiting Harrods is increasing, and the average spent by a Chinese shopper is three times that of any other nationality.
2012: The figurative sculptures that once adorned the Harrods food hall are consigned for sale at West Middlesex Auction Rooms, The 2 Mermaids supporting a giant Clam and the Stag and Boar sheltering under an English Oak are purchased by Greaves & Thomas for inclusion in an elaborate fountain for Ryde, Isle of Wight.
And while you’re here, why not take an exclusive tour through the gorgeous store from the comfort of your home: