In a rare meeting with the press on Tuesday morning, Ahmad Al-Sayed, chief executive officer of Harrods’ owner Qatar Investment Authority and chairman of the executive board of Harrods, sketched out plans for the store and the brand. The official reason for meeting was to unveil a light installation by Dale Chihuly that hangs in the entrance to the store’s Grand Hall.
Al-Sayed said a previously mooted Harrods hotel remains part of the expansion plans, and for that the firm is looking at sites in London, New York and “other prime cities” as possible locations. “Everything is for discussion, and we are studying different ways of expansion,” he said, but stressed that he would not try to replicate Harrods in its entirety outside London.
Since Qatar Holding, a global investment house founded by the Qatar Investment Authority, bought Harrods in 2010, the firm has invested 250 million pounds, or $410 million at current exchange, according to a spokesman for the store.
Among the most recent investments has been the restoration of a staircase from 1928 and the redesign of escalators at the entrance to the Grand Hall, where Chihuly’s new light installation has been placed. The chandelier, crafted from 1,400 handblown glass elements in amber and gold, is the first piece of artwork commissioned by Harrods, and its unveiling coincides with an exhibition of Chihuly’s work, which opened Saturday at London’s Halcyon Gallery.
Separately, Harrods is set to unveil its first standalone fine watch room at Heathrow’s new Terminal Two, which is set to open on June 4. The room is meant to “recreate the opulence” of the Knightsbridge flagship’s watch space,” said a spokesperson for Heathrow. The new terminal will also have a dedicated personal-shopping lounge and shops including Bulgari, Prada, Smythson, Bottega Veneta, Mulberry, Paul Smith and Burberry.
Asked about the Qatar Investment Authority’s overall investment strategy, Al-Sayed said the fund — which is also the largest shareholder in the U.K. supermarket chain Sainsbury’s — takes a broad approach to its future investments.
“I invest in retail, I invest in commodities, I invest in infrastructure — I invest in different kinds of [businesses],” said Al-Sayed. “We are like fund managers: When we decide on our investment, we check what suits our portfolio and then we make a decision,” he said.
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion