The ground floor of Harrods throbs with all variety of consumer life, from tourists shuffling between food halls and souvenir shops, to locals sampling skin care and makeup at shiny counters, to the stream of flush, luxury-minded visitors from the Middle East, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Brazil.
This story first appeared in the July 29, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
This fall, the floor is set to get even busier as Harrods caps a major two-year project to overhaul its accessories halls with the opening of two new jewelry spaces: a fine jewelry room that will double in size, and a luxury jewelry room in a new location on the floor. The latter will stock smaller, independent designers and stand-alone boutiques from brands including Georg Jensen, Stephen Webster, Annoushka, and Monica Vinader.
Between the end of 2011 —when the store unveiled the first new accessories room — and the end of this year, Harrods is expecting overall accessories sales to have increased by 150 percent. But the store is not stopping with the ground floor: Next year will see the launch of a luxury shoe area that will take up a substantial chunk of the fifth floor.
“Our vision was to create an unparalleled accessories offer…that would allow international fashion houses to create ‘world of’ boutiques that are truly destinational, alongside leading luxury brands, independent designers and contemporary labels,” said the store’s chief merchant, Marigay McKee.
Even before work began on the ground floor, which now has restored ceiling moldings, parquet flooring and new stone walkways throughout the accessories space, McKee said accessories sales have registered “significant growth” since 2008.
In the past two years, Harrods has doubled the number of designer and luxury handbag rooms from four to eight, doubled the size of its scarf room on the lower ground floor, added boutiques such as Tom Ford’s first dedicated accessories space and given others room for creative merchandising: Miu Miu is currently offering 400 varieties of bags, all of which are exclusive to Harrods.
This summer, the store added dedicated spaces for Saint Laurent and Alexander Wang.
With regard to sales trends, McKee said the store has witnessed a move away from heavily logoed product.
“When buying a handbag in particular, our customers are looking for quality and craftsmanship rather than being led solely by an obvious logo. Our exotics business is booming as a result, as are our bespoke and personalization services,” she said.
Luxury jewelry — where turnover has more than doubled over the past three years — will be housed in the former scarves and hosiery department, and the new space will open in September. It is designed by Eva Jiricná, the Czech architect whose projects include the grand entrance and reception of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Harrods’ watch and current and future fine jewelry rooms.
That space will feature in-store shops for designers including Webster, Jensen and Vinader, whose precious metal and cord stackable Fiji Bracelet, which ranges in price from 95 pounds, or $145, to 5,000 pounds, or $7,628, depending on the materials, is a bestseller in the current luxury room. Other brands in the new luxury room will include Carolina Bucci, Astley Clarke, Shaun Leane, Diane Kordas and Eddie Borgo. Prices there will range from 50 pounds, or $77, for a Links of London charm to 20,000 pounds, or $30,626, for a piece of Webster jewelry.
The fine jewelry room, which opens in November, will double in size and house six new boutiques for brands including Garrard, Boodles, de Grisogono, Hermès and Dior fine jewelry, as well as counter spaces for brands including Faraone Mennella and Buccellati.
The fine jewelry category is growing so rapidly, the store said, that this will be the second time since 2011 that the space has been expanded.