QATAR. Qatar Holding LLC said it plans to open Harrods-branded hotels in cities around the world including New York and Paris, two years after buying the British luxury retailer from the family trust of Mohamed Al-Fayed.
The Doha-based company, an arm of Gulf Arab state’s sovereign wealth fund, signed an agreement with Malaysian partners today for a proposed hotel in Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Bintang shopping district. A hotel management company will be established to seek out similar projects around the world, according to a joint statement by Harrods Ltd. and Qatar Holding.
“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 today. “We are looking to invest more in Malaysia because we think the economy is growing.”
Qatar Holding paid 1.5 billion pounds (US$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 Kuala Lumpur hotel would be the group’s first in Asia. It also wants to open in China, Al-Abdullah said.
Construction will start in a year on a 5.5-acre (2.2 hectare) site in the Malaysian capital, he said. About 2 billion ringgit (US$634 million) will be spent on the development, which will comprise as many as 300 hotel rooms, apartments and retail space, said Al-Abdullah.
Its preference is to build on sites already owned by Qatar Holding or its affiliates, such as London’s Chelsea Barracks site or Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, according to the statement.
“Qatar Holding ultimately intends to grow Harrods into a global enterprise that defines the luxury retailer and leisure sectors,” it said.
Qatar Holding is part of the Qatar Investment Authority, which is the largest shareholder in the J Sainsbury Plc (SBRY) grocery chain in the U.K., and invested US$2.8 billion in Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.’s initial public offering last year.