Harrods’ reputation lifted by Al Fayed’s sale

Stephan Shakespeare
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YOUGOV’S BrandIndex has seen Harrods’ “buzz” score climb dramatically since Mohammed Al Fayed, the shop’s owner since 1985, sold the Knightsbridge shop for £1.5bn ($2.3bn) to the Qatari royal family’s investment company, Qatar Holdings. BrandIndex’s “buzz” score is calculated by taking the number of respondents who have heard something positive about a brand in the last week, and subtracting those who have heard something negative.

Since the sale of Harrods was agreed on 8 May, the iconic British department store’s “buzz” score has risen from +0.6 on 7 May to +11.3 on 14 May, the highest buzz score Harrods has seen this year. Harrod’s “reputation”, which is calculated by asking whether respondents would be proud or embarrassed to work there, also increased from +38.0 to +41.1. This indicates that the sale is widely regarded as a positive move for the brand, as well as for Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, the chairman of the Qatari fund Holasdf.

This upward trend is in stark contrast to the negative buzz BrandIndex witnessed when Cadburys was purchased by another foreign investor (Kraft). This suggests that Harrods may have lost its reputation as an iconic British brand while under Al Fayed’s ownership; the increased “buzz” and “reputation” scores recorded after the sale might even reflect the public’s unsympathetic view of Al Fayed.

Meanwhile, the rapid demise of BP’s BrandIndex scores which we looked at last week have continued, with its impression score sinking to a new low of -17.0 on 17 May. Reports suggest that BP has finally managed to siphon off some of the oil pumping into the ocean, although with BrandIndex indicators plummeting, an effective solution could not come soon enough.

Stephan Shakespeare is co-founder and chief executive of YouGov