I’m not a frequent visitor to Harrods, I must confess, but I had been looking forward to revisiting its food halls following an extensive refurbishment last year. I finally found time to pop down to Knightsbridge last week and I was very glad I did: this is food retailing at its sexiest.

The highlight is the Fresh Market Hall – a veritable cavalcade of excellence across categories like produce, meat, fish, cheese, charcuterie, deli and prepared foods. Sitting alongside the Roastery and Bake Hall, the Fresh Market Hall is a very beautiful place indeed.

There are too many architectural highlights to note here – and I’m not really qualified to comment anyway – but the tilework, counters and ageing cabinets are simply stunning.

The deli is a brilliant section, enabling Harrods to showcase the work of 150 instore chefs, and there is a lovely Kama Indian food section by Vineet Bhatia and a pasta counter operated by fresh pasta mail order (yes, really) specialists Pasta Evangelists.

One entire wall is taken up by produce. There is a long run of chilled cabinets with fruit and veg lovingly merchandised within, as well as a philosophically challenging ‘Vegetable Butchery’ department where fruit and veg can be prepared to a customer’s exact specifications.

The cheese counter is staggeringly good. Housing an incredible range (100+) and set against a backdrop of lovely ageing cabinets, the counter is able to offer services such as the hand truffling of cheese and cheese consultations – a 30-minute consultation and tasting with a cheesemonger. In the unlikely event my wife ever reads this – I want a cheese consultation for my birthday please.

Equally impressive are the meat, fish and charcuterie counters. The fish counter uses only fresh whole fish, ready to be prepared and filleted by fishmongers on request, and is also home to a lobster tank where shoppers can pick out a specific creature.

The meat counter offers a ‘nose to tail’ approach for carnivorous customers and features a wealth of rare breeds from the UK and around the world, while the charcuterie counter features 20 legs of ham hanging in a lovely display.

This is not somewhere that I can justify frequenting very often on financial grounds, but it is a stellar retail experience that any retailers visiting London can regard as must-see.

Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director

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