Harrods is London's premiere department store, catering primarily to the luxury market, with an extensive range of top British, European and American designers. The Harrods building is the city's single largest retail store, with over one million square feet of selling space and sitting on a property that is more than 5 acres. By comparison, the second largest store, Selfridges, is only slightly more than 1/2 that size.
The Harrods lineage goes back to 1824, when a 25 year-old named Henry Edward Harrod opened a drapers shop in the Southwark area of London, but it was not until 1849 that the current location came into the picture. In that year, Harrod moved his shop to Brompton Street, taking over a one room store that was situated near Hyde Park, where the 1851 Great Exhibition was to take place. His son, Charles Digby Harrod successfully built up the business to the point where Harrods was able to take over adjacent properties.
In 1883 the Harrods store was devastated by a fire which left it burned to the ground. But a new building was constructed on the same site soon thereafter and Harrods continued its growth.
During the 1900's, Harrods had multiple owners. In 1959 it was bought by another British department store House of Fraser. 26 years later, in 1985, House of Fraser (including Harrods) was bought by the Fayed Brothers. In 1994 they divested the House of Fraser chain, preferring to focus on Harrods. 3 years later, Mohammed Al-Fayed's son, Dodi, was killed in a Paris car accident along with Princess Diana, who he was dating and her body guard. Only the driver survived. In 2010, Harrods was sold to Qatar Holdings, the investment agency of the royal family of Qatar.
Harrods has an astounding 330 different departments and on the busiest days of the year, will get visited by over 300,000 shoppers. For shoppers living outside the London area, including those abroad who might be wondering…. yes, Harrods does ship internationally, with delivery to countries throughout the world.
So well-known and respected is the Harrods name within the fashion and retail worlds, that souvenirs and gifts bearing the store's name are always a hot commodity.