Member of the Week | Harrods
It all started in 1834 with tea and a small grocery shop in Stepney opened by an ambitious young miller from Clacton by the name of Charles Henry Harrod.
Britain was already a nation of tea drinkers and it was a time of progress and optimism, with British traders venturing further and further afield. In 1849, two years before The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, Harrod realised that if his store moved from crime ridden Stepney to up-and-coming Knightsbridge, it could attract adventurous, curious customers – those eager to sample the new and exotic.
Today, Harrods is still there, serving about 200 varieties of tea to thousands of customers.
In the Harrods Food Halls, 150 chefs cook and fine-tune their recipes daily having sourced the finest products from across the globe. Last November, in the latest chapter of The Taste Revolution, the new Fresh Market Hall took food shopping to its zenith.
Harrods reflects how shopping is changing. It’s no longer about stores where people go to buy something. Today, Harrods is a theatrical, magical cornucopia of contemporary ideas, design and production. There’s a cigar room designed to prevent the smoke from lingering on clothes. There are bespoke perfume laboratories, a hammam and a wellness centre.
There are the finest of fine watches and jewellery. There is cutting-edge technology
offering a glimpse of the future. The settings are stylish, but expertise is paramount. Beyond all of the wonderful products, there are wild sensations to experience and services on offer – from commissioning a full redesign of your seven-bedroom Caribbean villa to tailoring a bespoke Dior haute-couture gown.
Britain has always been outward-looking and, just as Harrod made his fledgling store the focus for people travelling to The Great Exhibition, Harrods is re-engineering more than half of its space to take centre stage as Britain becomes a platform for the globe’s finest ideas.
Beauty will double in size, sitting across two floors and will house a broadcast area to reach customers all over the world. The rapidly expanding world of menswear will align in a super brands experience, showcasing the most spectacular versions of the world’s most in demand brands. And to keep pace with the dazzlingly fast, often bamboozling march of technology, there will be a new showroom, where enthusiastic staff will demonstrate how the latest innovations can add to our lives.
Harrods will be the barometer that predicts what lies ahead. After all, it was Harrods that installed Britain’s first-ever revolving staircase in 1898 (with Cognac and smelling salts at the ready to calm customers’ nerves). From air conditioning and electric lighting to progressive architecture and service culture, Harrods has always pioneered the art of the possible. It’s now as much of a stimulating cultural hub as a commercial emporium and its masters of luxury, experts on the exceptional and creators of magic will continue to be on hand to guide and inspire anyone who enters its doors – physically and digitally.