One of the most iconic names in UK retail has changed hands following the £1.5bn sale of Harrods to Qatar Holding.

The buyer is part of the Qatari Investment Authority, the sovereign fund that holds a 26% stake in Sainsbury’s.

QIA launched an unsuccessful bid to take control of the supermarket chain in 2007 and last year was rumoured to be preparing a new approach.

Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr al-Thani, who chairs the fund, said he would make Harrods “even greater and better”.

“It’s a historical place,” he said. “It is important, not only for the British people but it is important for the tourism. Qatar Holding will do its best to upgrade this monument to make it even greater and better.”

Michael Ward, who will retain his position as Harrods' managing director following the sale, said the acquisition would lead to exciting global growth for the store.

"There are a huge number of opportunities for the group and selective areas of the world in which we will develop."

The sale ends the colourful and controversial tenure as Harrods owner of Mohamed al-Fayed, who bought the upmarket department store 25 years ago for £615m.

Read more
Sainsbury’s tight-lipped amid takeover talk (16 October 2009)
Share purchase fuels Sainsbury's (26 June 2008)