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Harrods owner splashes the cash on department revamps

Harrods owner Qatar Holding has pledged “record” investment in upgrading the luxury London department store this year, funding 50 projects over a 26-week period.

The Knightsbridge department store, into which Qatar Holding ploughed £32.7m in 2010/11, is now funding developments including an expansion of its sportswear department, an overhaul of womenswear to focus on international designers and a revamp of kidswear, menswear and accessories.

Across womenswear, Harrods will open four new international designer rooms in autumn. Designers will include Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, The Row, Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang and Belstaff.  The department store will relocate M Missoni, Moschino Cheap & Chic, Cavalli Class, Paule Ka, Tara Jarmon and Red Valentino to its Weekend Room.

Harrods chief merchant Marigay McKee, who stepped up as chief merchant from fashion and beauty director last November, told Drapers that international designerwear has been a “commercial revenue opportunity area” this season.

She said: “Designer is where the growth is coming from in womenswear. We’re blessed with our new owners and the investment. It means I’m able to build four new designer rooms in one go. It’s amazing.”

She added: “In every room where we’ve edited down the mix and upgraded and gone more design focused, we’ve doubled the turnover. The average transactional value is two or three times, so even if you’re selling less pieces, you’re increasing turnover.”

Harrods broke through the £1bn sales barrier in January 2011 after tourists hit the shops in the run up to Christmas. McKee’s ambition is to reach the £2bn threshold, though she declined to set a timeframe on this figure.

The kidswear overhaul will complete in time for autumn, while in sportswear, a Nike at Harrods shop-in-shop will open at the end of June. It will feature a Young Athlete’s area, with a sports-focused kidswear offer. The space will become Nike’s biggest European kid’s store.

Also in June, Harrods will expand its ground floor luxury accessories room to include new boutiques for Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

In May 2012, the Men’s Lab – an edit of contemporary and denim lifestyle brands - will be revamped to become the Denim Men’s Lab. The space will feature a denim wall and will introduce brands including Replay and Jacob Cohen. 

Qatar Holding bought Harrods from former owner Mohammed al-Fayed in 2010 for £1.5bn.

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