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Harrods denies Dubai store rumours

Harrods rebuffs speculation that it is ready to open a store in Dubai.

Harrods, a luxury UK department store, has rebuffed recent press speculation that it is planning to open a store in Dubai. Rumours that Harrods was preparing to enter the UAE spread after a local business group apparently approached the company with the intention of entering a partnership to bring the brand to Dubai.

But while some press reports claimed that a deal between Harrods and a local company was almost complete, a spokesman for Harrods told Retail News Middle East that the retailer has no definite plans to open up in the UAE.

“At any given point Harrods will have unsolicited speculative interest from operators in a handful of locations worldwide,” he said. “Dubai is a location that has warranted some initial evaluation, but there are no definite plans to take the Harrods brand to Dubai, or indeed anywhere else in the world, at this time.”

Harrods was initially rumoured to be in talks with Dubai Festival City, although a UAE-based retail analyst has dismissed this. “I was aware of several people looking at the franchise, neither of which were either the site or the people announced in the papers,” he said. He added that one of the companies hoping to acquire the Harrods’ franchise for the UAE was interested in bringing just part of the Harrods concept, rather than the full store concept to the country.

Neil Tunbridge, head of retail services at Dubai-based analysts GRMC, said that the Dubai market might not be ready for a big department store such as Harrods.

“Department stores here don’t tend to work that well because of the retail market here. While it is booming, is still relatively immature,” he said. “I don’t think consumers here get the multi-brand department store format.”

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