Harrods redefines AV retail with new tech space

posted on Friday, 23rd March 2012 by Steve May

home cinema  Multi-room  Hi-fi  Retail 

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It was the high-end audio visual retail event of the year, and naturally Inside CI was invited. The opening of Harrods' spectacular new Technology Space attracted celebrities, enthusiasts and media stars, but the real highlight was the sheer breadth of hardware on show. Operated by Dixons Retail, this 22,000-square-foot tech department sprawls across the third floor of the iconic Knightsbridge store; it's an aspirational showcase for everything from big-screen projection and displays, to home computing, photographic and digital lifestyle products.

For the launch event, the store orchestrated several world premieres and exclusives, including a first look at Loewe's Connect ID Smart 3D TV range, due for launch this summer. Monster also used the event to unveil a new range of high-performance headphones, including the Gratitudes, endorsed by Earth, Wind & Fire, and the brand's first noise-cancelling models, dubbed Inspiration.

The Technology Space itself covers two large open plan rooms linked by a marble walkway. Not that this is any old corridor, casually hanging on one wall is Toshiba's 55-inch 4K resolution glasses-free TV, the ZL2.

Another area of the floor can be enclosed to provide a large-screen cinema experience, driven by Panasonic's PT-AE5000 projector. Speakers and hardware come from Denon, Marantz and B&W. The store makes great play of offering its clientele a bespoke suite of services including same day delivery, and complimentary set-up services. Full custom installation support, including design and implementation of multi-room audio, home cinema and networking solutions, is also on the menu.

Drool-worthy items in-store include the 11ft AeroDream speaker designed by Jean Michel Jarre, yours for a mere £330,000, and a 152-inch Panasonic plasma, a snip at just £600,000. Both of which make the 85inch B&O parked in a corner seem positively cheap at £66,000.

Martin Morecroft, MD of distributors Redline, was one of several familiar faces from the CI scene at the launch event. He told Inside CI: "As a first impression I think it looks very professionally laid out and conducive to extracting money from the well healed. I generally don't shop in places where I can't afford a slice of carrot cake and a coffee when I need a sit down, but I can see it being a good place to buy technology."

He noted that the staff appear to have a sound understanding of what they are selling. "I understand the install division is well trained and aim to major on customer service. The set-up looks several divisions up from any high street dealer. They just have to deliver on the promise."

Marketing and training consultant Roger Batchelor was also impressed. "The CE industry deserves a retail environment like this," he said.

For a virtual look around the floor, and a gander at the launch party, check out our photo gallery below.

 

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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Posted by James Middleton on 23rd March 2012, 6:33 PM
I had a sneak peak of this last week when strolling around Harrods and ended up behind the scenes talking to one of the installers
Posted by Darren Shear on 23rd March 2012, 6:34 PM
WOW £66k for a B&O cinema I wonder if its a rebadged Panasonic (Like the old screens)

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