Dixons and Harrods: a match made in heaven?

The electronics retailer is climbing the social ladder, with a concession in Harrods. Interesting choice for the department store...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
One is arguably London’s best-known retail landmark, famed for its discreet staff and high-quality products. The other is a high street electronics retailer staffed by pimply youths not noted for their customer service skills. Nevertheless, it seems Harrods and Dixons are to form an unlikely union, with Dixons taking over much of the running of the store’s electronics department. That’s quite a coup for the electronics retailer – but strikes us as a bit of an odd alliance for Harrods…

This isn’t the first time Harrods has formed a tie-up with another brand: Waterstone’s, for example, runs its books department, while HMV operates a music concession. (Waterstone’s, HMV, and now Dixons – do we detect something of a trend there? With sales dropping by 2% last year, Dixons is yet another brand on the brink…). But the electronics retailer is a little more, er, mass-market than either of those – although, admittedly, it says its new 11,000 square foot concession is going to be more discerning than its average store. Apparently, it’ll stock premium electronics like extra-large TVs and £1,500 cameras. Ooo-err…

In the past, the two brands have had something of a terse relationship, after Dixons ran an ad campaign mocking the department store (and, to be fair, itself). The billboard ad, for which then-Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed threatened to sue the electronics retailer, said ‘Get off at Knightsbridge, visit the discerning shopper’s fave department store, ascend the exotic staircase and let Piers in the pinstripe suit demonstrate the magic of the latest high-definition flatscreen, then go to Dixons.co.uk’. At the time, Al Fayed wasn’t amused – but a spokesperson for Harrods’ new owners insisted that it’s ‘all water under the bridge’ now.

Is this a sign that Dixons is going up in the world – or is it a last-ditch attempt to entice the middle-classes? The company has spent the last couple of years trying to turn itself around, and associating itself with a brand as premium as Harrods will undoubtedly do it a lot of good. And Harrods points out that Dixons staff who work in the store will have to adhere to its strict customer service (and sartorial) code. So who knows? The next time you shop at Dixons, it could be a disconcertingly high-class experience…

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