Harrods’ Qatari owners pay bumper dividend

The Qatari owners of London-based luxury department store Harrods have paid themselves GBP£100m (US$157m) in dividend payments after posting record annual profits.

Qatar Holding, the investment fund of the Gulf state’s royal family, took more than four times the GBP£22.7m paid the previous year, according to accounts filed at the UK’s Companies House.

The Qatar-based investment fund has spent millions of dollars upgrading the famous Knightsbridge store since purchasing it from Egyptian businessman Mohamed al-Fayed for GBP£1.5bn in May 2010.

New additions include a watch emporium and a “room of luxury” for designer handbags and accessories. The retailer has also invested in a new head office in central London and a distribution centre.

Harrods saw pre-tax profits increase 15 percent to GBP£125.3m while revenue rose 11 percent to GBP£651.7m in the year ending January 28. Harrods said 2011 had seen a “very significant programme of capital expenditure” of GBP£107.8m, compared with GBP£32.2m in 2011.

Qatar Holding earlier in the month announced plans to open a series of Harrods-branded hotels around the world. The first hotel will be a 300-room hotel in Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur, while other cities will include New York, Paris, London, and locations in China and Italy.

“Qatar Holding ultimately intends to grow Harrods into a global enterprise that defines the luxury retailer and leisure sectors,” the Doha-based firm said in a statement.

Hotels are already planned for London and Italy and Qatar Holding said they are likely to be located in sites it already owns in Chelsea Barracks and Sardinia, the statement added.

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