Harrods is a London department store, founded by Charles Henry Harrod in 1849. At the beginning, the store had a single room and employed two assistants and a messenger boy; it mainly sold tea and groceries. The store did well and expanded, and by 1880, was a thriving department store, offering everything from medicines and perfumes to clothing and food. It also attracted wealthy customers. The store’s expansion suffered a halt when it was destroyed by a fire in 1883. Harrods then moved the store to a location near Knightsbridge, London in 1949; where it reopened its doors to business, and is still standing today.
When it reopened, Harrods was famous for its grandeur; it had a palatial style, featuring a frontage clad in terracotta tiles, adorned with cherubs, swirling Art Nouveau windows, and was topped with a baroque-style dome. 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 is also known to have featured one of the world's first escalators in 1898.
During World War II, the store switched 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.
Today, Harrods is one of the world's largest and most famous department stores. It sells luxury and everyday items across seven floors and 330 departments. It is known for its worldwide quality and quantity, and has a large variety of product from designer apparel to gourmet foods. Harrods also is famous for its array of eateries. It's motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique “All Things for All People, Everywhere;” the store attracts fifteen million customers each year.
In 1985, the store returned to private ownership when Egypt-born Mohammed Al Fayed and his brother Ali bought House of Fraser for £615m. In 1994, the Al Fayed brothers let go of the other House of Fraser businesses, keeping only Harrods. By the year 2000, the Harrods Empire had expanded to take in outlets at airports and on the QE2 cruise ship. The sale included all parts of the group, including Harrods Estates and the charter aircraft service Air Harrods. In May 8, 2010, the London department store Harrods was sold by its owner Mohammed Al Fayed to the Qatari royal family for £1.5bn ($2.3bn). Qatar Holdings is the investment arm of the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority, and is the third-largest shareholder of car-maker Volkswagen, and has a stake in Porsche.