Qatar may open Harrods outlet in Shanghai

LONDON, May 10, 2010 (AFP) -The Qatari royal family's investment arm is considering whether to open a flagship Harrods outlet in Shanghai after its acquisition of the British store, the Financial Times reported Monday 10 May.

Photo : Carl de Souza/AFP

Qatar Holding, which bought the landmark London department store for 1.5 billion pounds (1.7 billion euros, 2.2 billion dollars) on Saturday 8 May, may target the Chinese city as a suitable site to export the brand overseas.

"Conventional wisdom is that it would be unwise to open in Paris, New York or Madrid because people there are close enough to be drawn to London," one person familiar with the investment fund told the paper.

"There have been significant discussions about whether to open in Shanghai, but will it be sufficiently far away and different from London not to cannibalise the brand?"

Replicating the success of Harrods abroad is one of four areas being discussed as part of Qatar Holding's three-month review of the business, said the FT.

Others are: developing a luxury online store; expanding the Harrods brand beyond souvenirs for the mass market; and renovating the London shop to expand selling space.

Egyptian tycoon Mohamed Al Fayed sold the store in the upmarket Knightsbridge district of the British capital at the weekend after nearly a quarter of a century in charge.

The 77-year-old Al Fayed, who also owns Europa League finalists Fulham Football Club and the Hotel Ritz Paris, will continue to promote the store as its honorary chairman.

The new owner is the main investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority, which trades on behalf of the Gulf state, investing and managing the emirate's oil and gas-generated wealth.

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