Harrods owner Mohamed Fayed has told employees that the iconic Knightsbridge department store is not for sale after an unsolicited approach for the business.
In the last few weeks speculation had mounted that the store was set to be bought by a Qatari bidder, believed to be the Qatari Investment Authority.
In a statement delivered to staff on Tuesday, Harrods director of public affairs Katharine Witty said: “We do not comment on rumours or speculation. That is neither to confirm nor deny that any discussions have taken place to sell the store.
“However, for some time we have been aware of gossip circulating over a possible sale, and we took the decision to reassure staff this morning that this was not the case via a store-wide announcement. We are happy to confirm that Harrods is not for sale and is not being sold.”
It is believed that Harrods received an unsolicited approach for the business and that discussions had taken place until as recently as the last few days. Credit Suisse, the investment bank was understood to be working with the Gulf investor.
However, Fayed, who bought the department store in 1985 for £615m, decided against the sale.
Harrods has been regularly linked to takeover speculation. In 2002, John Ritblat, then-chairman of property giant British Land, offered to buy Harrods from Fayed and lease it back to him. The offer was rejected by Fayed.
In 2003, Fayed was said to have considered putting the store on the market and was linked to Harvey Nichols owner Hong Kong company Dickson Poon and investment bank Lazards, which was understood to be working on a deal to merge Harrods with rival Selfridges.