We spoke to April Preston, Executive Head of Food Innovation at Harrods, about innovation, experiential shopping, and the store’s exciting new food hall.
What does innovation mean to you?
It means different things in different businesses. For Harrods it’s about inspiration: creating products and concepts that inspire our customers, and that they didn’t know they wanted until they saw them. Sometimes people take innovation to mean something you’ve never seen before, but it can also be about seeing something in a new context. For example in our new food hall we’ve got a baker on the shop floor, and one of our most successful lines is a two kilogram sourdough that you can personalise with your initials. It’s a loaf of bread, but the fact that it’s baked in-store by experts and you can personalise it, makes it new and innovative.
You’ve recently revamped your food hall. What’s the vision behind that?
We have a fantastically diverse customer base, with a lot of tourists and international customers, but we wanted to attract the local London foodie customer back to the food hall, so this is partly about appealing to them. The food hall has four rooms that hadn’t really been touched for 30 years, so we’ve begun a rolling programme where we renovate one, open it and move on to next one. We were very conscious we wanted it to play to all the senses. Harrods has always been experiential, but where we’ve moved on is with this multisensorial element. We’re so lucky to have a Grade II listed building, which is such a wonderful canvas to create the world’s greatest food hall. It still feels like Harrods, but Harrods 2018.