One-hundred and eighty-five years ago, Charles Henry Harrod, an ambitious young miller from Clacton, opened a tea merchant and small grocery shop in Stepney. In 1849, two years before The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, Harrod decided to move his store to up-and-coming Knightsbridge to attract those adventurous, curious customers, eager to sample the new and exotic.
Harrods is still in Knightsbridge doing just that, today serving around 200 varieties of tea to thousands of customers flooding in from all over the world. Spanning seven (and-a-half) storeys of wonder, the world’s most illustrious department store has a shop floor covering 4.5 acres and 40 lifts that travel 40,000 miles a year.
The next chapter of the Harrods story is now being written as the store undergoes a four-year, £200 million project, the largest, most ambitious undertaking in the brand’s history. Over half the internal space is being reimagined to provide an experience unlike any other in the world, turning Harrods into a veritable cultural hub by 2021.
The world’s most illustrious department store has a shop floor covering 4.5 acres and 40 lifts that travel 40,000 miles a year
Meanwhile, the Grade II*-listed hall floor-to-ceiling tiles in the Dining Hall have been restored. Beneath the beautiful storied décor, the stage is set for a grand culinary experience with six new restaurants – The Fish Bar, The Grill, The Pasta Bar, The Sushi Bar, Kama by Vineet and The Wine Bar. Each chef cooks with ingredients from the Fresh Market Hall, sourced for their quality and provenance, while The Wine Bar has over 100 wines available by the glass.
Harrods reflects how retail is changing. It’s no longer simply bout shopping, but discovering experiences unlike any other. Customers can develop an entire building or style a single room with the help of the in-house interior design service or enjoy a masterclass to keep pace with the dazzlingly fast, often bamboozling march of technology.
Harrods has always pioneered the art of the possible. After all, it installed Britain’s first-ever revolving staircase in 1898 (with Cognac and smelling salts at the ready to calm customers’ nerves). It’s as much of a stimulating cultural hub as a commercial emporium and will continue to inspire and delight all who enter its doors.