There are few department stores anywhere in the world that are as famous as Harrods. London’s iconic shopping destination is known around the globe for its luxury brands, its beautiful exterior and its premium services.
This magnet for international tourists and shoppers is home to exclusive pieces, over 300 departments and, of course, the signature green bag. Even if you’ve never visited this haven of luxury shopping in the British capital, you’re sure to be fascinated by these ten interesting facts about Harrods.
1. Harrods Is Over 150 Years Old
Originally, Harrods was established by Charles Henry Harrod in 1849. At first, the store was just one room that mainly sold groceries. However, within 30 years, it had grown to become a popular department store and today, it offers more than five thousand different brands from its Knightsbridge location.
2. A Latin Motto For The Store
Most stores have a recognisable logo but Harrods goes one step further and has its own store motto. In Latin, it reads “Omnia Omnibus Ubique” which translates into “All Things For All People, Everywhere.”
3. Always Innovative
The Harrods store is proud to have always been leading the way in terms of technology and innovation, even from its earliest days. As far back as 1898, visitors were amazed when one of the very first escalators in the world was unveiled at the store.
4. A Crowded Store
On a typical day, around 100,000 shoppers visit the Knightsbridge store, but even those high figures are nothing compared to the crowds that flock to Harrods at Christmas when the numbers increase to around 300,000 visitors.
5. A Zoo And Exotic Pet Store
Pets could be purchased in Harrods until as recently as 2014. 1917 saw the opening of the first pet department but it was a store unlike any other, selling exotic animals such as panthers, tigers, lions and alligators. In the same year, a zoo was also opened in-store that began with goats and chickens but eventually grew to include exotic animals.
6. Betting With Selfridge
One of the other big name stores in London, Selfridges, has an interesting connection with Harrods. During the early years of the 20th century, the store owned by Harry Selfridge was in rivalry with Harrods. This led to the owners making a bet over which of the two stores would be more profitable in 1917. Harrods won, so Selfridge commissioned a store replica in silver that can now be seen on the store’s lower ground floor.
7. Heaven For Shoes
Shoe Heaven was opened at Harrods in 2014. This enormous 42,000 square foot department offers more than 100,000 pairs of luxury footwear made by more than 55 exclusive designers. Some of the top brands that can be purchased here include Aquazzura, Jimmy Choo and Valentino.
8. Harrods Once Had Its Own Online Casino
In 2000, Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods at that time, decided to take advantage of the UK liberal stance on online gambling and launched its own Harrods Online Casino. Aimed at an exclusive customer base, this venture allowed affluent bettors to place a wager on popular games such as roulette, blackjack and poker.
9. Eating Around The World
Not only does Harrods offers luxury shopping facilities, it also has no less than 21 different eateries catering for every taste. Discerning diners can indulge in steak, Middle-Eastern cuisine, sushi, oysters, champagne and ice-cream as well as that epitome of British good taste – the afternoon tea.
10. A Festival of Lights
In 1959, Harrods began a Christmas tradition by lighting the exterior of the building with 1,100 bulbs. This festival of lights went from strength to strength. Today, the Harrods building in Knightsbridge is lit up every night by more than 12,000 sparkling lights and every day, around 300 bulbs need to be changed.