For Sale

Fayed was persuaded to sell, after the Qataris pledged to underwrite the long-term growth of Harrods and protect the pay and pensions of its 5000 staff. Hussain Ali Al-Abdulla, the vice-chairman of Qatar Holding described the acquisition as "truly magnificent".

He gave no details of future plans for the store and whether it would expand overseas. The Qataris would say only that they  planned to hire advisers to set out a "road-map" for the  business.

The Qatar flag was flying in the store within a short time of the purchase.

Sheikh Hamad said "I know it's important, not only for the British people, but also for tourism in London and Britain. I can ensure that Qatar Holding will do their best to upgrade this monument, to make it even greater and better for the tourism and for the British people".

A statement from Mohammed Al Fayed  said that he would now retire, Fayed, and his brother Ali, took over Harrods when they took control of the House of Fraser in 1985, for £615 million, after a bitter power struggle.  It led to a public row with mining and publishing magnate, Roland "Tiny" Rowland, who had made several earlier attempts to buy the unique, high-class retail business.

Fayed claims to have invested more than £400 million restoring Harrods to its former glory.

About £75 million was spent in  installing  an Egyptian-theme escalator  with sculptures and carvings. His company is thought to have more than £600 million of debt, provided by a syndicate of banks, led by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The loans are secured against its property.

Harrods has continued to trade strongly during the recession, aided by the weak pound, which has attracted foreign tourists to London.

The last published accounts, for  the year to February 2nd 2008, show the business generated sales of more than £437 million, up from £401 million the previous year.

Underlying pre-tax profits were £55.4 million, an increase from £52.4 million the previous year. It is thought that profits and sales have grown significantly since then.

The store stands on a 4.5 acre site in high-class Knightsbridge and has more than a million square feet of selling space, spanning more than 330 departments. Harrods sells luxury, celebrity-endorsed items, on seven floors and attracts 15 million customers each year. It is a venerable British institution!

Qatar has a long history of trading with Britain. 

Much of the natural gas now used to power  the UK, is shipped in from Qatar, as Liquefied Natural Gas [LNG], into Milford Haven, Pembrokeshir, Wales, before being piped to Gloucestershire, for further distribution.

The Qatar Investment Authority {QIA], started in 2005, has a 26 per cent stake in J Sainsbury; 20 per cent in the London Stock Exchange, as well as substantial holdings in Barclays Bank, Credit Suisse and Volkswagen.

We wish the Qatar Royal Family, the al-Thani family, the very best of good fortune with their brilliant new venture.

It is certain to attract far more wealthy Middle East shoppers into London, especially from Qatar and the rest of the Arabian Gulf area.

An exciting new era starts in the history of Harrods, probably the most famous and most prestigious department store in the whole world! 

Even a Harrods shopping bag has always been regarded as an item of prestige in this country!