Harrods Sold to Royal Family of Qatar
After denying for years that he planned to sell the iconic
Harrods department store, Mohamed al-Fayed has done just that. Last week, Harrods
announced it had to been sold to an investment group, Qatar Holding, representing
the royal family of Qatar, for £1.5 ($2.3) billion.
As for his change
of heart, the 81-year-old Mr. Fayed said he had decided that the time was right
to spend more time with his children and grandchildren. He will continue as
honorary chairman of Harrods.
According to a report in London’s The Sunday
Times, Mr. Fayed had
called off negotiations in the past month after Qatar Holding had balked at
billion he was reportedly asking for the business. He was finally persuaded to
accept the lower offer after the new owners agreed "to underwrite the long-term
growth of Harrods and protect the pay and pensions of its 5,000 staff."
Costa, chairman of asset managers Lazard International, who advised the Al
Fayed family on the sale, told BBC News, "In reaching the decision
to retire, [Mr. Fayed] wished to ensure that the legacy and traditions that
he has built up in Harrods would be continued, and that the team that he has
built up would be encouraged to develop the foundations that he has laid."
Holding has given no official indication of any major changes planned for Harrods
but said it would bring in advisers as it created a "road-map" for
the building the business. A report by the Financial Times suggests
that possible changes would be revamping the Knightsbridge store to increase
the amount of selling space. Other possibilities include building up the chain’s
website to expand its business online and building a second location in Shanghai
to serve Southeast Asia.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, prime minister
of Qatar and chairman of Qatar Holding, said, "I know it’s important
not only for the British people but for tourism and London and Britain. I can
ensure that Qatar Holding will do their best to upgrade this monument to make
it even greater and better for the tourism and for the British people."
Holding is buying an upscale icon that has managed to prosper even in the face
of a recession that has hit its customers from the U.K. and abroad. Harrods,
with its All Things for All People, Everywhere motto, attracts roughly 15 million
customers every year.
Discussion Questions: If you were buying Harrods, what would you do
with the iconic department store?
- Mohamed al-Fayed in £1.5bn
Harrods sale – The Sunday Times
- Mohammed Al Fayed sells Harrods store to Qatar Holdings – BBC News
- Bold move wins the keys to Harrods – Financial Times
- Qatar investor buys UK department store Harrods – Reuters