Cut-price couture: Harrods opens its first outlet store in London

The famed luxury department store created the high-fashion discount branch in five weeks

epa08523361 A general view on Harrods in Central London, Britain, 02 July 2020. According to reports, British department store Harrods will cut about 700 jobs due to coronavirus crisis that hit the luxury retailer.  EPA/WILL OLIVER
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Its Knightsbridge store is one of the hallmarks of London's luxury shopping scene – but now bargain hunters can snap up a sartorial steal from Harrods year-round.

The high-end department store, which was founded on Brompton Road in 1849, has opened its first outlet store, offering luxury buys at a discounted price.

The Harrods Outlet is located at Westfield London, a sprawling shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush, west London.

The new branch opened on Friday, July 3, with prices on collections slashed by at least 40 per cent.

The outlet store was devised to encourage social distancing and prevent crowding, by tempting sale shoppers outside of Harrods' flagship store.

“Our normal sale in the Knightsbridge store takes us four weeks to clear and that is with 80,000 people going through the store each day,” Harrods' managing director Michael Ward said. “We are currently limited to 4,500 at any one point in time. It was going to take us months.”

The Westfield outlet store is spread across about 7,400 square metres, taking over a site previously held by Debenhams, a UK department store chain that went into administration in April.

The outlet took five weeks to create at the mall, Ward added, and stocks more than 100 brands.

Customers can take their pick from womenswear, menswear, childrenswear and homeware, and will be manned by 80 employees. To comply with regulations designed to stem the spread of Covid-19, a limited number of fitting rooms will be opened, and will be sanitised between customers.

Any items that have been tried on will be quarantined for 48 hours, as per government guidelines, Drapers reports.

The outlet store opened days after Harrods announced a wave of redundancies, and confirmed that 600 to 700 of its 4,800 employees would lose their jobs.

"I don't think people understand how painful the last 90 days has been," Ward told Bloomberg.

“We have to position ourselves for the 4,200 people who will remain in the business. There is a reality that has to come into all of this. We are in a new norm and we have to adapt very quickly.”