As lockdown here eases, Harrods is opening up – and growing – with the Knightsbridge store to start trading again on June 15 and a new luxury outlet set to land at Westfield London in July.
Harrods described its Westfield outlet as a concept store for existing season stock, adding the new unit is meant take pressure off the vast flagship in Knightsbridge as it re-opens with new and “significant” social distancing measures. June 15 would usually have been a big summer sale moment at Harrods, and the store said it did not want to run the risk of overcrowding.
The outlet’s selection will include fashion, beauty and accessories drawn from the Harrods sale, and the new unit will occupy a premium space at the Westfield shopping mall, set over two floors.
Additionally, Harrods said its seasonal sale will have a bigger presence online, also due to the new social distancing measures. Harrods’ Knightsbridge store will open on June 15, along with other non-essential retailers in England, with a focus on “new and exclusive edits,” and some seasonal reductions.
“The COVID-19 crisis has caused unprecedented challenges for the retail industry, but has also allowed the opportunity for bold ideas. For luxury retail, the conditions of social distancing will require even more innovation to succeed in this ‘new normal,’” the store said on Thursday.
Since closing its doors in March, Harrods said it has been “poised and ready” to resume its operations in a way that ensures the safety of colleagues and customers.
As of June 15, Harrods said that “footfall-monitoring technology” will be in operation to limit capacity in Harrods Knightsbridge and ensure social distancing can be maintained. Clear signage will direct customers and employees safely around the store, and specific doors will be designated for entering and exiting the building.
An enhanced cleaning program has also been introduced, including hand sanitizer stations established across the store and at entrance and exit points. The store said that its rainbow-themed windows “will be updated to a bold eruption of a rainbow prism, symbolizing optimism in better days ahead.”
Harrods said the challenge of hosting the usual, seasonal in-store sale has been exacerbated by the limited flexibility of operating in a Grade II-listed building.
“Harrods Outlet allows the business to adapt to changed circumstances and grow in undoubtedly challenging times for the economy. The concept store has been designed to support higher levels of social distancing by allowing more space for customers, enabling a wider product selection of new-season product in the Knightsbridge store, as well as supporting the business in retailing existing stock in a responsible and sustainable way,” the company said.
Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods, said the focus over the past two months “has been on getting our Knightsbridge store back to what it does best; serving our customers, supporting our brand partners and bringing new and exciting experiences to those who pass through our doors. Harrods Outlet allows us to enable better social distancing across a larger footprint, move towards the new season decisively and confidently, and retail in a responsible way.
“The opening of Harrods – a building that has stood in central London for over 170 years – is important for our long-term stability as a business, but also an optimistic step in the wider re-opening of London. We are excited to welcome back our customers and colleagues, as well as support the local London and British economy get back on its feet”.
Keith Mabbett, director of leasing U.K./Italy at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said: “It has been extremely exciting for our team to work on developing a unique store that will host the launch of Harrods Outlet in July. While we redesign the flow and layout of our centers to adapt to new guidelines for their reopening on June 15, creating a two-story luxury store that responds specifically to the changes we face is a very exciting concept for us.”
As reported, Harrods has announced a number of brand innovations that will take the core business out of Knightsbridge for the first time. These include the first H Beauty concept in Lakeside, England, and the extension of Harrods’ personal shopping experience in Shanghai at The Residence, both of which are due to launch later this year.
Per government guidance, Harrods said its restaurants, hair and beauty salon and wellness clinic will remain closed. “Until receiving further guidance from the government we continue to plan for the best possible health and safety and social distancing measures, enabling the safety of staff and customers and upholding the highest standards. This will allow us to reopen these remaining divisions as soon as possible,” the store said.