Harrods guns for record results after overseas lift
Harrods appears to be on track for another record year of sales and profits after overseas visitors continued to spend freely at the landmark London emporium.
The Knightsbridge department store said its sales so far in the crucial month of December were ahead of last year.
This suggests it will surge past the £1bn-plus sales, which it delivered for the first time in the year to 29 January under its new owners. Qatar Holding, the investment fund of the emirate's royal family, acquired Harrods for £1.5bn in 2010.
Michael Ward, the managing director of Harrods, said: "The luxury market continues to be very strong," citing positive underlying sales this month. He declined to be drawn on figures, but said: "We are showing growth on the year so technically we will be better than the £1bn last year."
This bodes well for Harrods' bottom line, following its record pre-tax profits, before exceptional items, of £108.3m in 2010-11.
Chinese visitors to Harrods have increased again this year, making them the biggest contingent beyond the British. He said: "There has been a continued drift towards luxury among international shoppers."
But Mr Ward also cited strong traffic from the oil-rich countries of Africa, such as Nigeria, and South-east Asia, including Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. "The world is shifting very strongly eastwards," he said.
But he criticised visa restrictions that the UK Government places on overseas visitors, such as the Chinese and Russians. In terms of products, he said: "People are buying classic pieces and timeless luxury... and the big brands continue to win, such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Dior."
Harrods has also enjoyed storming sales of Christmas hampers at £500 or above.
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