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Harrods

London department store Harrods has been sold by its owner Mohammed Al Fayed to the Qatari royal family for £1.5bn. Recognized for its celebrity-endorsed sales, food hall and signature green bags, Harrods is one of the world's largest and most famous department stores. With more than a million square feet (90,000 sq m) of space, Harrods sells luxury and everyday items across seven floors and 330 departments.

Its motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique - All Things for All People, Everywhere


The Knightsbridge store was established in 1849 by Charles Henry Harrod. Beginning in a single room and employing two assistants and a messenger boy, it mainly sold tea and groceries. Harrods steadily expanded, and by 1880 was a thriving department store, offering everything from medicines and perfumes to clothing and food. Its expansion suffered a knock in 1883 when a fire destroyed the store. This did not halt the owners, however, who duly rebuilt the store, with the help of architect Charles William Stephens, into what it is today. Harrods became a public company in 1889 and by the 1890s it had established a bank and estate agency and a department selling exotic pets that lasted until the 1970s. It featured one of the world's first escalators in 1898.

During World War II, the store transformed itself from selling luxury goods to making uniforms, parachutes and parts for Lancaster bombers. In 1959, High Street department store group House of Fraser bought Harrods.

In 1985 the store returned to private ownership when Egypt-born Mr Al Fayed and his brother Ali bought House of Fraser for £615m, snatching it from mining conglomerate Lonrho. The takeover bid was bitterly fought as Mr Al Fayed had previously served on Lonrho's board but left nine months later after a disagreement. Lonrho's director, the late Tiny Rowland, took his campaign against the takeover to the Department of Trade who duly held an inquiry.

Dress code
The store controversially introduced a dress code in 1989 which included a ban on wearing high-cut, Bermuda or beach shorts; swimwear; cycling shorts and flip flops or thong sandals.
 
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