Harrods department store 'sold'

World-famous department store Harrods has been sold, it was reported today.

It has been sold by Mohamed al Fayed for £1.5bn to a buyer understood to be the Qatari royal family, broadcasters reported.

Sky News's city editor Mark Kleinman said Ken Costa, the chairman of Lazard International, the investment bank advising the family trust on the deal, had just confirmed the sale to him, though he declined to comment on the identity of the purchaser.

There was no immediate word from Harrods to confirm the reported sale.

Mr Kleinman said that the Qatari royal family had made an approach for the Knightsbridge store several weeks ago but Mr al Fayed rejected the offer.

However the owner of Fulham FC had reconsidered the approach.

Mr Kleinman said that a statement was set to be made today confirming the deal.

"I understand that in the last 24 hours Harrods has been sold and a statement about this deal will be made today," he added.

Ken Costa sent a statement to Sky News which said: "After 25 years as chairman of Harrods, Mohamed al Fayed has decided to retire and to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.

"He has built Harrods into a unique luxury brand with worldwide recognition. In reaching the decision to retire, he wished to ensure that the legacy and traditions that he has built up in Harrods would be continued, and that the team that he has built up would be encouraged to develop the foundations that he has laid.

"Qatar Holding (QH) will become only the fifth owner of Harrods since its creation, in 1840. Qatar Holding was specifically chosen by the Trust as they had both the vision and financial capacity to support the long-term successful growth of Harrods.

"Of paramount importance to Mohamed al Fayed was to ensure that the Harrods staff would find in QH an owner who would be supportive of their efforts to maintain the traditions of Harrods."