Harrods is coming to Abu Dhabi. But the company hopes to entice property investors instead of shopaholics with deep pockets. Harrods Estates, the property division of the world-renowned Knightsbridge store, is sending representatives to Abu Dhabi this month to seek Gulf buyers for its London properties. "We have recently seen a surge of enquiries from the region," said Shirley Humphrey, the sales and marketing director of Harrods Estates.
"We also aim to interact with prospective high-net-worth investors, developers, financiers, consultants, architects, urban planners and many others." The company will take part in Cityscape Abu Dhabi for the first time this year, showcasing its properties in prime areas of central London including Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Belgravia, Mayfair and South Kensington. Sales of luxury homes in London have been hit by job losses in the City and declining bonuses among high earners in the financial services industry.
Sales of London homes worth more than £1 million (Dh5.58m) rose last month at the slowest rate in almost a year, according to the international property consultancy Knight Frank. "We cannot overlook the importance of international buyers to the market. A record 49 nationalities bought residential property in central London in 2009," said Liam Bailey, the head of residential research at Knight Frank.
Harrods Estates said international clients now accounted for 87 per cent of its sales and lettings. Gulf buyers were 31 per cent of those buying central London residential property through Harrods Estates in 2008. "This category of properties is particularly favoured by Middle Eastern investors who appreciate grand houses or apartments with large lateral space, period features and immaculate interiors, as well as premium services such as first-class concierge and 24-hour security," Ms Humphrey said.