LONDON — Michael Ward will step down as managing director of Harrods in July, the store confirmed Friday.
“It has been an incredible decade, and I feel very privileged to have been part of Harrods’ continued development into the world’s most luxurious department store,” said Ward, who has been in his role since 2005.
A Harrods spokeswoman said a successor has not yet been named.
Ward, 59, was the executive who helped the store transition successfully to new ownership in 2010 after its longtime proprietor, Mohamed Al Fayed, sold it to Qatar Holding LLC, the investment company linked to the royal family of the Gulf state, for $2.22 billion.
During his tenure, he was instrumental in attracting and accommodating foreign customers, from China, the Middle East and Africa, and was also known for his diplomatic and management skills.
Before Ward arrived, the managing director’s position at Harrods was a famously revolving door, with few managers able to handle Al Fayed’s mercurial, controversial style. Al Fayed owned the store for 25 years.
With his nose for numbers, Ward was also able to transform Harrods — already a London retail institution — into a business that last year posted turnover of 769 million pounds, or $1.26 billion, and an after-tax profit of 115 million pounds, or $188.6 million. All figures have been converted at average exchange rates for the year ended Jan. 31, 2015.
“The brand is in great shape, and I have no doubt Harrods will continue to deliver on its strategy for growth,” Ward said. “I will always retain enormous affection for my time with Harrods. I wish the company the very best for the future.”
During his career at Harrods, Ward has also worked to promote British creative talent and business in new markets.
Earlier this year, he was named chairman of Walpole, the alliance of British luxury brands that includes Aston Martin, Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Jimmy Choo and Mulberry. Walpole is the British equivalent of Italy’s Altagamma and France’s Comité Colbert.
Ward is also serving his second term as president of the ECCIA, the European Creative and Cultural Industries Alliance. The alliance is an umbrella organization for five national luxury groups including Walpole, Fondazione Altagamma and Comité Colbert. The five bodies represent more than 400 luxury brands and cultural institutions.
Ward started his career in chartered accountancy, training originally with Ernst and Young in 1980, before becoming group finance director for Bassett Foods Plc in 1986, gaining an MBA at the same time. In 1989, he took up a similar role at the drinks company H.P. Bulmer Holdings Plc.
In 1994, he became managing director of Lloyds Chemists Plc, and later held retail roles at companies including the private equity group Apax Partners.