Harrods is not for sale, says Mohamed Al Fayed

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The Independent Online

Mohamed Al Fayed's Harrods last night moved to quash speculation that the iconic Knightsbridge department store was up for sale.

It is the second time in the past three years that Harrods has been rumoured to be linked with a potential sale and follows a bumper Christmas for the upmarket store.

Following a day of speculation, the company stated that talk it is to be sold is false. A rumour had circulated that Mr Al Fayed was considering ending his ties with the prestigious outfit. Harrods, late last night, said that the story was completely unfounded. A spokesman said: "I confirm on behalf of the company and Mr Al Fayed that Harrods is not for sale. Nor has Harrods commissioned any third parties to find a buyer."

In May 2003, Philip Green, the owner of Bhs and Arcadia, was rumoured to have offered to buy the store from Mr Al Fayed but the reports were strongly denied by the retailing entrepreneur. He is not thought to be interested in making a bid for the business.

Mr Fayed is very sensitive to suggestions that he might wish to offload the store, where he has said he would like to be buried. He bought the iconic outlet in 1985 for £650m after a long-running battle with Tiny Rowlands. At the time, it also owned the House of Fraser department stores which were later spun off.

Harrods dismayed its employees earlier this month by announcing it was closing its final-salary pension scheme and replacing it with a money purchase scheme. The decision affects 1,500 active employees in Harrods' scheme. The Transport & General Workers Union, which represents a number of Harrods employees, attacked the move.

The Harrods scheme has a deficit of £111m, which the company says it plans to close over a 10-year period.