Charles Henry Harrod started out
with a shop on Brompton Road in 1849 to sell groceries. Under the
direction of his son, Charles Digby Harrod, who bought it in 1861,
the business expanded into the sale of a range of mechandise such
as furniture, perfumes, china and glass. He retired in 1889 and
the business was floated as a limited company, but retained the
family name: Harrod's Stores Limited.
Richard Burbidge was appointed the role of Managing Director two
years after floatation. He was instrumental in the acquisition of
the surrounding land and the development of the large department
store. By 1902 Harrods had 80 departments and about 2000 members
By 1912 Harrods was expanding globally to follow business interests
in Argentina; in 1919 it formed Harrods (Continental) Ltd., and
1920 saw the development of Harrods (North America) Ltd. In the
UK it grew by acquisitions, predominantly Dickens & Jones Ltd, in
London in 1914; Kendal Milne & Co., in Manchester also in 1919;
and in 1928 they purchased D H Evans & Co. Ltd in London. A few
years later in the 1940's John Walsh Ltd., in Sheffield and William
Henderson & Sons Ltd., in Liverpool were acquired and in 1955 Rackhams
in Birmingham was taken over.
In 1959, the whole Harrods Group was taken over by House of Fraser,
a Scottish company. Then in 1985, Alfayed Investment and Trust (UK)
Limited bought the House of Fraser for £615 million. In 1994, all
fifty-six House of Fraser stores, excluding Harrods, were floated
on the stock market. Mr Alfayed continues to own Harrods.
Harrods, situated in Knightsbridge, Central London, boasts 0.8
million square feet of selling space over seven floors to accommodate
over 300 departments offering a vast range of goods and services
from food to furniture, and dry cleaners to estate agents and over
20 restaurants and bars. At night the outside of the store is illuminated
by 11,500 light bulbs. Harrods attracts on average 35,000 customers
daily. This figure rises to 300,000 at peak times such as Christmas
and Sales. 25% of annual sales are made to Account holders and overseas
customers represent 20% of sales.
Harrods employs over 4,000 staff from 50 different nationalities,
and an additional 1,000 staff are employed seasonally.
Harrods has a £30 million distribution centre in Osterley, Middlesex
housing 20,000 units of merchandise waiting to be delivered to the
store or the customer. 1,000 deliveries a week leave this centre
in one of 40 vehicles. A further fleet of 17 vehicles make a further
1,500 deliveries each week straight from the store.
The Harrods motto is "Omnia Omnibus Ubique" which translates into
'all things, for all people, everywhere'.