Harrods is much more than a department store it has become an iconic part of London’s history. What we now know as Harrods began back in 1849 as a single room in Knightsbridge. By the 1890s Harrods was a public company and began expanding from a grocery shop into other departments and even had the world’s first escalator. By the time of the early ninety’s it had grown to 91 departments and Richard Burbidge’s ideas of a luxury department store were beginning to show. During the war in the 1940s Harrods began producing uniforms and parachutes and gave a section of the department store to the Royal Canadian Air Force. By 1949, in the space of 100 years Harrods had transformed itself into a successful £20m business.
In 1959 Harrods began modernising and were acquired by the House of Fraser Group. Then about 20 years later it became a family owned business again as it was acquired by the Fayed family, who invested £300m in refurbishment. In 2010 Harrods was sold to the Qatari Royal Family and in 2011 became the world record holder for the only stand alone department store in the world to reach £1 billion sales in a year. Today the store is home to 330 departments spread over seven floors.
Fortnum & Mason has become a staple part of British life, located in Piccadilly it is one of the most famous and oldest stores in the area. It began in back in 1707, over 300 years ago as a grocery store where they became known for supplying new and exciting quality food which attracted upmarket customers that couldn’t be purchased elsewhere. By the 19th century it was supplying food to the Queen and became a favourite of the Royal family. It developed rapidly throughout the Victorian era and eventually grew into a department store.
Today Fortnum & Mason holds onto its history and continues to focus on stocking a variety of exotic and basic types of food and dedicating themselves to quality good food. As well as keeping the interiors as it was many, many years ago there is a dress code for staff of morning coats. Fortnum & Mason is still known as one of the best and a firm favourite for luxury hampers where prices can reach into the thousands of pounds that they have sold since the Victorian times.