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Harrods aims to boost own label by opening in-store boutiques

Harrods is to drive its own-label offer with the opening of in-store boutiques for its eponymous clothing and accessories range.

The dedicated areas will open by 2012 and will house Harrods’ burgeoning collection, which has formed an increasing part of the iconic department store’s business since its introduction.

Harrods is the latest in a string of department stores to back its own label, with Liberty, House of Fraser and Debenhams also chasing margin by pushing the strategy.

Lower-priced own-label merchandise has also appealed to price-sensitive shoppers during the downturn.

Harrods’ own-label offer would also be easier to translate to overseas markets, avoiding the problems of exclusive licensing agreements with its other brands and opening up the possibility of licensing its own label to other retailers.

In May, rival premium department store Liberty said it had signed a deal for Italian supplier Slowear to produce a Liberty of London menswear collection and said it would seek further partnerships to expand its international presence.

Harrods’ new owner, Qatari investment fund Qatar Holding, said it would pursue overseas expansion as part of its plans for the Knightsbridge retailer, which it acquired for £1.5bn in May.

Harrods general merchandise manager Jason Broderick said the store’s own label had “huge potential”, adding that the store, which posted record sales of £751.7m in the year to January 31 with pre-tax profit of £56.2m versus £55.4m the year before, wanted a “substantial” part of future sales to be generated by own label.

Broderick said Harrods would position its menswear and accessories as an alternative to brands such as Brioni Roman Style, the Italian maker of $5,000 (£3,320) suits.

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