Date: Sunday 09 May 2010
LONDON (ShareCast) -
LONDON (AFP)--The Qatari royal family's investment arm is considering whether to open a flagship Harrods outlet in Shanghai after its acquisition of the U.K. store, the Financial Times reported Monday.
Qatar Holding, which bought the landmark London department store for GBP1.5 billion ($2.2 billion) Saturday, might target the Chinese city as a suitable site to export the brand overseas.
"Conventional wisdom is that it would be unwise to open in Paris, New York or Madrid because people there are close enough to be drawn to London," one person familiar with the investment fund told the paper.
"There have been significant discussions about whether to open in Shanghai, but will it be sufficiently far away and different from London not to cannibalize the brand?"
Replicating the success of Harrods abroad is one of four areas being discussed as part of Qatar Holding's three-month review of the business, the FT said.
Others are developing a luxury online store, expanding the Harrods brand beyond souvenirs for the mass market and renovating the London shop to expand selling space.
Egyptian tycoon Mohamed Al Fayed sold the store in the upscale Knightsbridge district of the U.K. capital during the weekend after nearly a quarter-century in charge.
The 77-year-old Al Fayed, who also owns Europa League finalists Fulham Football Club and the Hotel Ritz Paris, will continue to promote the store as its honorary chairman.
The new owner is the main investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority, which trades on behalf of the Gulf state, investing and managing the emirate's oil- and gas-generated wealth.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 09, 2010 23:36 ET (03:36 GMT)
The Two Billion Dollar question is do they try to copy the store in a pastiche homage or does it go to the mall?
In the UK Harrod's pursue the logical into Derek Quinlan's entire city island block known as 'The Estate' next door will if they have an urgent requirement make DQ's clients a very tidy profit
- PVC King
PVC King wrote:The Two Billion Dollar question is do they try to copy the store in a pastiche homage or does it go to the mall?
While either option maybe commercially successful, the addition of another branch of the austere department store (even on the far side of the world) will ultimately diminish the Harrods brand. Despite the presence of a small souvenir outlet in Heathrow, The store has always prided itself on the slogan "There is only one Harrods".
Even the Knightsbridge address is used on all merchandise sold there.
And while the London institution has cast off much of the snobbery formerly associated with it as it turned towards the tourist dollars during the Al Fayed years, replicating the store elsewhere will only dilute the unique shopping experience that has always been something of a raison d'etre for the place.
Being in Harrods meant being in London. If Shanghai opens, that brand image is lost.
- Global Citizen
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The mountain is now in the far east - Mohamed needs to go to the mountain.
After all, its not as if the Brits haven't been there before - didn't they try to poison China with opium?
I'm sure some tastefully presented "Boxer Rebellion - Opium Wars" trading cards would go down a bomb in the People's Republic.
- Old Master
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- PVC King
AVESTUS MAY SELL LONDON PROPERTIES - Avestus Capital, formerly known as Quinlan Private Capital, is believed to be on the verge of selling its entire Knightsbridge portfolio in London, which it acquired in 2005 for Â£530 million. An informed source said the group had gone "sale agreed" with a buyer from the Middle East, says the Irish Times. Due diligence is being conducted and Avestus expects to swap contracts in about two weeks. "It's a big piece of real estate and a complex transaction," the source added. The sale price is said to be "comfortably above" the level paid by Avestus and its investors when they bought the 3.42-acre portfolio five years ago. It is not clear who the buyer is, but specialist British magazine Property Week recently reported that Saudi Arabian investment group Olayan had teamed up with investment adviser Chelsfield to bid for the site. Called The Estate, Knightsbridge, it is a freehold island site of about 50,000sq m incorporating the entire prime retail frontage between department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols in central London.
Chelsfield are doing the Parabola development in Kensington designed by OMA; the Quatari's might fit the bill of special interest given their wish to expand Harrods which would be acheivable through a bridge ala Selfridges; looking at Gallerie Lafayette in Paris it too has gone beyond its original building envelope.
- PVC King