Harrods marks 150 years of confectionery retailing with new chocolate hall
Luxury British department store Harrods has celebrated 150 years of confectionery retailing in opening its chocolate hall as part of a wider £300 million investment in its Knightsbridge store, reports Neill Barston.
The move is part of a wider major four-year restoration of its food halls, which are once again fully open to customers after being closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As the business explained, customers will be able to enjoy live demonstrations from Harrods own world-renowned chocolatiers, with fresh chocolate handcrafted in full view at the showstopping Harrods Chocolaterie, as well as access to some of the most exclusive confectionery partners and brands from around the world, all within spectacular Grade II listed surroundings.
Chocolate plays a pivotal role in the history of Harrods. The world-famous department store opened its first confectionery counter in 1870, before beginning its own in-house chocolate production in the early nineteenth century. By the 1970’s, over 100 tonnes of chocolate were produced on-site in the world-famous Knightsbridge store.
A significant part of the redevelopment has taken place throughout the renowned Harrods Food Halls, a global emporium of premium food and drink. The opening of the Chocolate Hall concludes the extensive Food Halls redevelopment programme.
Harrods’ ambition to be the number one chocolate destination goes beyond design and into new commitments to sustainability and responsible sourcing. As the company confirmed, ethical and sustainable sourcing are at the heart of chocolate production at Harrods and the opening of the Chocolate Hall brings with it Harrods’ commitment to only use responsibly-sourced cocoa in all new products and own-brand Harrods chocolate, through working with accredited suppliers who either buy cocoa from farms that participate in certification schemes, or who buy directly from the farms themselves, ensuring that farmers are paid a premium.
The company said that it is proud to pay a premium for its cocoa and to support third-party initiatives that drive social and economic development amongst cocoa farming communities. This pledge reflects Harrods’ broader commitment to bring more sustainably produced and sourced products into the business, and to celebrate those brands which uphold ethical credentials.
The Chocolate Hall has been brought to life by award-winning designers David Collins Studio; the same design team behind the broader Harrods Food Halls transformation project.
The restoration pays tribute to Harrods’ longstanding heritage in chocolate by creating an environment that reflects the Halls original Edwardian grandeur. As part of work on the site, its extensive tilework has been restored by hand, replacing individual tiles which could not be restored with handmade replicas, as well as restoring the impressive granite and marble floor.
The store said that the improvement works had been designed to create a sense of opulence, while incorporating technology including climate-controlled counters to store confectionery, ensuring no compromise on product freshness or taste.
The Harrods Chocolaterie is undoubtedly the crowning glory of the Chocolate Hall, where the magic of chocolate creation comes to life. Here, customers can witness the spectacle of live chocolate theatre, as Harrods chefs make everything from fresh bonbons and indulgent filled bars to chocolate-dipped confit fruit, all in full view. The only UK department store to make and sell its own chocolate in-house, Harrods remains the ultimate destination for showstopping food experiences and the most exceptional confectionery produce.
The Chocolate Hall is proudly home to the most coveted confectionery and luxury chocolate brands, including To’ak, made with one of the rarest varieties of Ecuadorian Nacional cacao beans and handcrafted using an extraordinary fermentation process – with the brand available to few outlets around the world beyond its own online store.
Eleven concession boutiques can be found in the Chocolate Hall, including heritage favourites such as William Curley and Pierre Marcolini. Meanwhile, Harrods has partnered with Belgian artisan chocolatier Godiva to reimagine the iconic Godiva chocolate-coated strawberry, with the creation of the theatrical Dipping Station. The ultimate mid-shopping snack, customers will be able to choose from sumptuous fresh strawberries to dip into Godiva’s heavenly rich chocolate.
Moreover, the Chocolate Hall remains the home of Harrods own-label signature confectionery, with enduring favourites including the signature Gold Bar, boasting a recipe that remains unchanged since the first time it was produced 24 years ago, and still handcrafted by an independent family-run business in Belgium. Meanwhile, the Harrods chocolate covered fruit and nuts offer a selection of over twenty fruit and nut ranges, from roasted almonds to Amarena cherries, with each product made in Germany by expert craftsmen.
Harrods is proud to have one of the largest chef brigades in Europe, including Head Pastry Chef, Alistair Birt, a previous winner of the UK Chocolate Master contest.
Michael Ward, Managing Director at Harrods, comments: “The opening of our redeveloped chocolate halls is a hugely special moment for us. It is the final stage in our ambitious investment and redesign of our historic Food Halls; a project that has continued with passion and drive despite the challenges of the last year. It is also a perfect demonstration of what Harrods does best; harnessing the greatest strengths from our heritage while re-imaging luxury for a modern customer.
The launch of the Chocolate Hall not only brings the most evocative chocolate craftsmanship to life in an unparalleled setting, but also marks an important commitment towards responsible sourcing and welfare standards, something that we are proud to uphold as the cornerstone of chocolate production at Harrods.”