Harrods sold to Qatari royal family

The sale of Harrods is the biggest UK retail deal since the takeover of Alliance Boots in 2007. (Photo by Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)

Iconic London department store sold for £1.5bn as Al-Fayed retires.

Iconic London department store Harrods has been sold to Qatar Holding, the company owned by the Qatari royal family.

Flamboyant owner Mohamed Al-Fayed has sold the department store that he has owned since 1985 in a deal thought to be worth about £1.5 billion. Al-Fayed has sold Harrods as he is planning to retire but will become honorary chairman of the department store. Harrods managing director Michael Ward is expected to retain his position at the leading luxury retailer.

It is believed that Qatar Holding will help Harrods to expand internationally. It has been reported that the new owners are considering opening a flagship Harrods store in Shanghai.

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Qatar Holding is also reported to be planning the launch of an online luxury store, an expansion of Harrods own-brand lines, and a refurb of the Knightsbridge store to create extra selling space.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Bin Jaber Al-Thani said: “I can assure you that Qatar Holding will do their best to upgrade this monument to make it even greater and better for the tourism and also for the British people.”

Analysts have said that the sale could spur other foreign investors to snap up property on the British high street, taking advantage of the falling pound and a revival in consumer spending.

The deal is the biggest in UK retailing since the £11.1 billion takeover of Alliance Boots in 2007. The sale of Harrods has beaten the whole of last year’s retail deals, which Bloomberg has estimated at US$1 billion.

Harrods has thriving jewellery and watch departments. Brands sold at the famous store, which attracts super-rich shoppers from both home and abroad, include Mawi, Toywatch, Guess, Stephen Webster, Alex Monroe, Shaun Leane, Monica Vinader, Rado, Technomarine and TW Steel.

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