Harrods to plunder '7-11' convenience niche

A grocery store called Harrods 102 will open opposite the Knightsbridge store in February, selling food to shoppers too busy to fight crowds in the flagship store.

Industry watchers are speculating that if the shop is a commercial success Harrods 102 will open in cities across the country.

Harrods' push into the 7-11 market will involve gourmet goods far removed from everyday foods in most neighbourhood stores. Fine cuts of meat and expensive cheeses and coffees are expected to replace the traditional baked beans or milk.

Harrods 102 will have a "lifestyle" convenience theme, opening probably between 7am and 11pm and feature fashionable products from the shop's renowned food hall. There is also likely to be a café.

"You will be able to order coffee with your croissants. It won't just be a luxury convenience store," said a Harrods spokeswoman.

Inside the shop a trendy "oxygen spa" will sell stressed shoppers 10-minute blasts of high-concentration oxygen from masks.

The development represents another high-profile departure from Harrods' origins as a destination department store. Since fighting off the Lonrho tycoon Tiny Roland's bid to buy Harrods in 1985, the shop's flamboyant owner, Mohamed al-Fayed, has relentlessly expanded the brand.

The wealthy can hire executive helicopters from Air Harrods, have their private jets served by Harrods Aviation, buy £5m Mayfair homes from Harrods Estates, or deposit their riches at Harrods Bank. At Heathrow and Gatwick you will find Harrods retail kiosks. In Barnes, south London, warehouses have been converted into Harrods Village, a luxury Thames-side development.