Two years after buying the British luxury retailer from the Mohamed Al-Fayed family trust, Qatar Holding LLC announced on Tuesday its plans of opening Harrods-branded hotels in top cities around the world.
An arm of the Qatar Investment Authority which has around $100bn worth assets under its belt, the Doha-based company signed an agreement with Malaysian partners for a proposed hotel in Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Bintang shopping district. According to a joint statement by Harrods Ltd. and Qatar Holding, a hotel management company will be established to seek out similar projects around the world.
“We have already decided to build a Harrods Hotel in London, one in Kuala Lumpur and one in Sardinia, Italy,” Qatar Holding Vice Chairman Hussain Ali Al-Abdulla told reporters in the Malaysian capital. “We are looking to invest more in Malaysia because we think the economy is growing.”
Qatar Holding paid $2.3 billion for Harrods in 2010, including its landmark store in London’s Knightsbridge district, which opened in 1849 and counted Sigmund Freud and Oscar Wilde among its customers. The hotel initiative is part of a strategy to develop the brand beyond retailing. The company CEO added that Harrods will also open a hotel in China.
The Kuala Lumpur hotel would be the group’s first in Asia.
According to the plans, a 5.5-acre site has been acquired in the Malaysian capital where construction will start in a year. About $634 million will be spent on the development, which will comprise as many as 300 hotel rooms, apartments and retail space, said Al-Abdullah.
“Qatar Holding ultimately intends to grow Harrods into a global enterprise that defines the luxury retailer and leisure sectors,” it said.
According to Bloomberg, Qatar Holding is part of the Qatar Investment Authority, which is the largest shareholder in the J Sainsbury Plc grocery chain in the UK, and invested $2.8 billion in Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.’s initial public offering last year.