Harrods wants to do more food business with Londoners


Harrods department store, where no luxury is too extravagant, has begun a makeover that is transforming the site.
Harrods department store, where no luxury is too extravagant, has begun a makeover that is transforming the site. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (Bloomberg) - Harrods is a destination for shoppers from around the world, but ask most Londoners when they last visited, and you may get a blank look.

It is not where many Londoners get their milk and meat.

The magnificent Art Deco food halls, offering everything from mustard to rare Champagnes, in recent years have begun to look tired: not retro, just dated.

The Qatari-owned department store, where no luxury is too extravagant, has begun a makeover that is transforming the site. The first of the four halls-the Roastery and Bake Hall-opened just before Christmas. The other three will come in phases over the next two years. Harrods is calling it a Taste Revolution.

It is the first big change in more than 30 years. Things move slowly at a store that traces its history in the area to 1849, when a grocer called Charles Henry Harrod opened a store with two assistants selling tea, coffee, biscuits and other goods from a single counter.

Harrods wants to revive the whole experience of shopping. In this era of Amazon.com, the aim is to offer something customers cannot get online, especially the chance to see, smell and decide after consulting in-house experts.

The hall is now home to some big personalities, including Master Baker Lance Gardner, who has worked with some of the top chefs in Michelin-starred kitchens. He operates in full view of shoppers.

Across the aisle, Bartosz Ciepaj is roasting coffee. He has a decade of experience and has competed for the title of world's best barista. He can talk for hours about different regions, varieties and roasting methods. 

Nearby, Tea Tailor Angelo Tantillo can develop your own blend, which you can re-order at any time.

Mr  Alex Dower, Harrods director of food and restaurants, says his aim is to entice more Londoners into the store, and the revamp may just do the trick.