Harrods to open in Shanghai?

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Indy Lifestyle Online

After London's most famous department store Harrods changed hands from al-Fayed to al-Sayed this weekend, new owner, Qatar Holding is considering a Chinese branch.

The company behind the investments of the Qatari royal family bought the store on May 8 for £1.5 billion (approximately €1.7 billion) after months of negotiating between Qatar Holding's CEO, Ahmad al-Sayed, and former Harrods owner, Mohammed al-Fayed.

Now, according to the Financial Times, new projects are on the horizon for the British house, including a new luxury online store and expanding the house name brand beyond souvenirs.

The biggest and riskiest of them, however, remains the issue of opening branches abroad. "A big issue is to determine whether the brand is portable,"an insider source told the paper. "Conventional wisdom is that it would be unwise to open in Paris, New York or Madrid because people there are close enough to be drawn to London.

"There have been significant discussions about whether to open in Shanghai, but will it be sufficiently far away and different from London not to cannibalize the brand?"

Various luxury brands are currently pondering on how to expand to China without sacrificing the exclusive appeal of their houses. One to watch is French luxe label Hermès, which announced last month that it would open the first store of its newly established brand Shang Xia - "clothes and accessories based on Chinese styles and traditional know-how" - in Shanghai in September. Stores in Paris and the rest of the world are expected to follow.