As the countdown to Christmas continues, tourists and shoppers are flocking to Harrods in London’s Knightsbridge district – arguably the world’s best known department store.
This year’s lavish festive window display, inspired by a classic British steam train, has attracted thousands of shoppers from across the globe, with each mock up carriage displaying high-end fashion – including an £80,000 (Dh479,504) Swarovski-encrusted gown by Ralph & Russo – accessories and homewares.
Aside from its striking displays, new research from the property broker Knight Frank reveals that proximity to the so-called “terracotta palace” can also increase your house price by nearly a fifth.
In house price data collected over the past year, the broker found properties within a 200-metre radius of Harrods command average prices of £3,215 per square foot.
However, walk just a couple of minutes away from the store and prices start to fall. The researchers found that for the upmarket flats and houses between 200 metres and 300 metres away from the store, average prices stood at £2,644 per sq ft – 18 per cent less than the homes closest to the shop.
Walk even farther away and average prices continue to decline, with values tapering steadily by about 3 per cent for every 100 metres up to a distance of 2 kilometres.
One seller hoping to benefit from the Harrods brand and location is the controversial British property tycoon Christian Candy, who is currently marketing a five-bedroom penthouse on the opposite side of Brompton Road from the store for an eye-watering £29.95 million.
Mr Candy, who forms one half of the Candy & Candy property brand with his older brother Nick, has forged an international business based on luxury and decadence catering to the whims of the world’s wealthiest people.
The flat, located on the fourth and fifth floors of what looks a fairly run-of-the-mill 1960s apartment building, has certainly had the full Candy & Candy treatment with its interior design. Features include two terraces, a gym and 1960s-inspired decor.
And the businessman is hoping the flat will be just the thing to tempt a rich buyer with a penchant for shopping – just in time for Christmas and the New Year.
“As our research shows, the prime central London property market continues to have huge international draw, and the Knightsbridge buyer base is especially global, with Middle Eastern clients topping the list,” says the Knight Frank partner Rupert des Forges.
Q&A: tracksuits strictly forbidden
Why all the fuss about Harrods?
Since its opening in Knightsbridge in 1849 by the founder Charles Henry Harrod – who set up the store to cash in on trade to the first ever Expo, the Great Exhibition – Harrods has built up a reputation as a shop for the elite. Early customers included Oscar Wilde, Charlie Chaplin, Noël Coward, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. The shop has 330 departments and covers five acres of space. Today it is also one of London’s biggest tourist attractions, bringing in 15 million customers a year.
What does it sell?
The store takes pride in stocking everything “from a pin to an elephant”. The former US president Ronald Reagan once tried to put this to the test, famously phoning the store and asking if they sold elephants. He was met with the cool reply: “Would that be African or Indian sir?” In 1969 two Australians bought a lion from the store for 250 guineas.
Who owns it?
After being floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1889, it was acquired by British department store holding company House of Fraser before being sold to the Egyptian business magnate Mohammed Al Fayed in 1985. Fifteen years later Mr Al Fayed sold the store to sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holdings for a reported £1.5 billion (Dh8.99bn).
What should I wear?
In 1989 Harrods introduced a dress code and ordered its liveried assistants to turn away customers who were not appropriately dressed. These included Ukrainian football players who were wearing tracksuits.