Harrods to invest millions in new wine rooms

Luxury London department store Harrods is to open a new ‘multi-million pound’ wine and spirits area in spring next year, the drinks business can exclusively reveal.

The current wine store opened seven years ago as the “ultimate wine shop”

Speaking to db yesterday afternoon, the newly-appointed director of food and restaurants at Harrods, Alex Dower, said that a major investment in wines and spirits was taking place at the famous Knightsbridge store, which, he stressed, was dedicated to having the best possible drinks offer.

While a report in the Evening Standard at the end of last year claimed that Harrods was closing its wines and spirits department, Dower said that the opposite was the case, as it was dedicating a huge sum to creating a new set of rooms just for alcoholic drinks.

“Far from shutting our wine business, we are spending a fortune committing to the future,” he said.

Nevertheless, the current drinks department is due to move temporarily to a space near the bottom of the ‘Egyptian escalators’ on the same lower ground floor, where it will remain from 17 July until springtime 2018, when the new permanent wine and spirits area is finished.

“It was wrongly reported last year that we were closing the fine wine department when we were considering where we would relocate it,” he recorded.

However, he said yesterday that Harrods is “going to build a new multimillion pound wine and spirits department,” that would be housed, like the old one, in the basement, but in an area that has yet to be confirmed.

Featuring three interconnected rooms, Dower said that Harrods had decided to move its wine and spirits department because it wanted an area big enough to merchandise every one of its wines horizontally, as well as keep all the products in a temperature-controlled environment 24 hours a day.

He also told db that the new drinks department would be situated adjacent to a “cigar sampling lounge”.

When asked why the Harrods had not chosen to take the wine and spirits area out of the basement, he said that the shop has “always found that the lower ground floor works for wine, it was just that the current space doesn’t allow us to do what we want to do”

He also outlined three elements that were key to the new permanent department.

The first is “total product integrity”, he began, noting that the new rooms will give the store managers total control over the temperature and levels of light, while allowing enough space for everything to be merchandised on its side.

The second is “a new type of design”, he said, revealing that Harrods has enlisted designer Martin Brudnizki for the new area. Brudnizki – who was responsible for the look of famous restaurants such as The Ivy and Sexy Fish – “has come up with a glamourous residential feel”, according to Dower.

Finally, he said that the new department would have a “sensory and educational feel”, noting that it would be “experiential”, and “unique”, although he added that any details about how this would be achieved would be revealed at a later date.

“Across the whole of Harrods we are always trying to elevate every experience,” he commented, more generally.

He also noted that the current Harrods wine buyer, Ed Gerard, has been promoted to buying manager for wines, spirits and cigars for the store, meaning that he will now be in charge of a team of buyers in the department.

As for the wine range in the new area, Dower said that it would, like the current selection, be strong in the Old World and above all Bordeaux, but that the luxury retailer would “continue to edit and improve the range”.

Key points:

• Harrods’ current wine and spirits department in the lower ground floor will close on 17 July and move to a temporary space on the same floor, where it will remain until spring next year.

• In spring 2018 Harrods will open the doors to a new ‘multi-million pound’ wine and spirits area, filling three interconnected rooms, and situated alongside a cigar sampling lounge.

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