Fresh from buying Harrods off Lord Fug himself, Qatar Holdings have set out big plans for their £1.5 billion acquisition. Actually, 'brand' might be a more apposite word: the new owners are hoping to cash in on the Harrods name by building a store in Shanghai.
In what could be the greatest British export to the Middle Kingdom since opium, the state-backed Qatari investment firm is considering an audacious plan to build a replica of the Knightsbridge institution in China's second city. Experts see the location as ideal: positioned to attract increasingly affluent Chinese and Asian consumers who love all things Anglo, in particular the name Harrods; and far enough from Europe or north America to avoid cannibalising sales from the London store.
Since founder Charles Henry Harrod moved his eponymous Stepney grocer to Knightsbridge in 1849, Harrods has been synonymous with the ritzy west London lifestyle. However, branches of the store away from Brompton Road aren't unheard of: there's a small store in Heathrow Terminal 1, and the only foreign Harrods opened in central Buenos Aires in 1914; it survived until financial problems crippled it in the mid-1990s. The faded visage is still prominent in the shopping district, and it occasionally plays host to tango dances.
Photo / daveograve