Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever

Posted by: bennevis

Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 02:12 PM

The world-famous department store in Knightsbridge, London (which once boasted it could supply anything from anywhere in the world, from elephants to Fabergé eggs....) has closed its piano department because of lack of sales. Sales of pianos in the UK have dwindled from 14000/year in the 1960s to 4000/year today, according to the BBC Radio 3 presenter of the 'In Tune' evening drive-time program today, Suzy Klein. (I presume she meant acoustic pianos).

A sad day indeed. I remember visiting its piano department some years ago when it had Bösendorfer grands. Last time I visited, the piano department occupied just a small area of the floor, and C. Bechstein shared space with digitals, albeit top of the range ones like the Röland V-Piano Grand. It's all no more...... cry
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 02:19 PM

Large department stores have never been an ideal to shop for a specialty item such as a pianos, especially high end ones.

In Canada we saw these changes already decades ago when our national chain Hudson Bay was very active [and successful..] in piano sales.

Harrods simply lived on borrowed time and had a longer run on it than most others.

Norbert
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 03:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Large department stores have never been an ideal to shop for a specialty item such as a pianos, especially high end ones.

In Canada we saw these changes already decades ago when our national chain Hudson Bay was very active [and successful..] in piano sales.

Harrods simply lived on borrowed time and had a longer run on it than most others.

Norbert


Wasn't it at Eaton's department store in Toronto where Glenn Gould found the one Steinway D that ever made him happy?
Posted by: AJB

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 03:58 PM

Harrods is a tourist shop!

Very few people who actually live permanently in London would dream of shopping there.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 04:00 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB
Harrods is a tourist shop!

Very few people who actually live permanently in London would dream of shopping there.

Dream?!?! When I lived in London I didn't even like the Knightbridge area... At least not right on the A4 laugh On the back things were much better and the pubs were nice! ^_^
Posted by: Chris H.

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 04:03 PM

I was there three weeks ago and it took me ages to even find the piano dept. it was in a tiny corner and to be honest they didn't have much of interest. What was there was hugely overpriced and covered in big DO NOT TOUCH signs. Big difference to a few years ago when I had fun playing a wide variety of pianos there.

Thankfully there are still plenty of great piano shops in London. I love Jaques Samuels in particular and found the staff very friendly and helpful when I was last in. They let me go play in the Fazioli room even though it was clear I didn't have the means to purchase one. Great place.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 04:10 PM

Originally Posted By: AJB
Harrods is a tourist shop!

Very few people who actually live permanently in London would dream of shopping there.



Except the Sloane Rangers? (Like the late Princess of Wales.....?)
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 04:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Chris H.


Thankfully there are still plenty of great piano shops in London. I love Jaques Samuels in particular and found the staff very friendly and helpful when I was last in. They let me go play in the Fazioli room even though it was clear I didn't have the means to purchase one. Great place.


I certainly agree about Jacques Samuels. That Fazioli F278 has been used in several concerts by Angela Hewitt, as well as recordings, and I just love playing it. And they have a wide selection of great Shigeru Kawai grands too.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 05:21 PM

Jacques Samuels seem to be dealers for both Kawai and Yamaha.

Thinking ain't happening on this continent.

Norbert
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 05:54 PM

Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Originally Posted By: Norbert
Large department stores have never been an ideal to shop for a specialty item such as a pianos, especially high end ones.

In Canada we saw these changes already decades ago when our national chain Hudson Bay was very active [and successful..] in piano sales.

Harrods simply lived on borrowed time and had a longer run on it than most others.

Norbert


Wasn't it at Eaton's department store in Toronto where Glenn Gould found the one Steinway D that ever made him happy?


Yup. There's a book about it. Romance on Three Legs.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/04/13 07:48 PM

Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Wasn't it at Eaton's department store in Toronto where Glenn Gould found the one Steinway D that ever made him happy?
I read the book about Gould's pianos a long time ago, but I think the piano was in storage in some back room. I don't know if the store was trying to sell it. Not really sure if my memory is correct here.
Posted by: Joe Ravita

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/05/13 08:05 AM

I started in the business in 1976 at the Joseph Horne Company in Pittsburgh. At the time I believe they were the only department store in the country that was not an outside lease. We had a spectacular elegant separate building with a recital hall. They carried Steinway, Sohmer, Wurlitzer, Hammond and Rodgers. The business was excellent and I remained there until July of 1984. The company was sold to a New York group that immediately phased out all hard goods. It was a shame because the sales training provided and the customer service offered were second to none.
Posted by: John Martin

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/05/13 05:58 PM

Large department stores are not service orientated . Piano buyers need expertise and good ongoing service.

This can only be provided by piano specialists that have many years of piano knowledge and strong relationships with piano technicians and piano educators.

A piano purchase is a serious investment and piano buyers deserve to get the very best experience when they are investing in a piano.
Posted by: KurtZ

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/05/13 08:45 PM

Originally Posted By: John Martin
Large department stores are not service orientated . Piano buyers need expertise and good ongoing service.

This can only be provided by piano specialists that have many years of piano knowledge and strong relationships with piano technicians and piano educators.



Plus many. Pianos are not microwave ovens.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/06/13 05:59 AM

If I remember correctly, when Harrods's piano department occupied the whole floor in its heyday, they did have piano specialists from the respective piano brands on hand to advise customers on the merits of their pianos.

Even when I was last there and the piano department was much, much smaller, they had someone doing the C. Bechstein grands and someone else from Roland looking after the DP customers.
Posted by: Joe Ravita

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/06/13 08:02 AM

The situation I was involved with at Joseph Horne in the 70's was very unique. the sale staff was extremely capable, as there was on site training by every manufacturer we represented throughout the year as well as trips to manufacturer sponsored training events. We had in house RPT's, organ service and cabinet repair, we offered piano and organ instruction. As to service, the family that owned the company stressed that we will be exceptional as most of the customers spent thousands each year in the department store and they would not risk their future business over one extra larger purchase.
Posted by: rxd

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/06/13 08:18 AM

In their heyday, Harrods, lIke all the major piano manufacturers, had a tuning and technical dept. that covered the whole country. You could also hire any combination from a pianist to a small orchestra to play for your event.

They, too, stocked all the major manufacturers pianos.
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever - 02/06/13 12:38 PM

Originally Posted By: John Martin
Large department stores are not service orientated . Piano buyers need expertise and good ongoing service.

This can only be provided by piano specialists that have many years of piano knowledge and strong relationships with piano technicians and piano educators.

A piano purchase is a serious investment and piano buyers deserve to get the very best experience when they are investing in a piano.


At least in my experience, large department stores today are nothing like what they were 40 or 50 years ago. They were a lot more about quality merchandise and professional service than is true today. Today there's so much more competition and pressure to keep costs to a minimum that real customer service -- or almost any customer service -- is difficult to provide.

Even still, there are some departments at some major stores where it is still possible to find good service and fair prices for quality goods.

Pianos, though, are just too special an item for that kind of setting. At least today...