In 1831, Benjamin Harvey opened a linen shop in a terraced house on the corner of Knightsbridge and Sloane Street in London.
In 1835, the shop expanded to No.8 next door, and would continue to expand into successive properties over the following years. In 1841, Benjamin employed James Nichols from Oxfordshire. In 1845, Nichols was promoted to management and in 1848, he married Harvey’s niece, Anne Beale. Meanwhile, in 1847, Harvey's son and heir Benjamin Charles was born.
Benjamin Harvey died in 1850, leaving the business in the care of his wife Anne, who went into partnership with James Nichols to form Harvey Nichols & Co.
1872 saw the death of Anne Harvey, followed by that of James Nichols in 1873. Benjamin Charles Harvey was left as the sole remaining partner of the firm.
By 1874, Harvey Nichols occupied the entire block between Seville Street and Sloane Street. In 1889, the existing space was demolished to make way for a new, purpose-built department store. The building, as we know it today, was designed by CQ Stephens and built in stages between 1889 and 1894. In 1904, the location underwent a change of address to become 109 - 125 Knightsbridge.
In 1975, a restaurant called Harvey’s opened on the Fifth Floor and was an instant success. By the 1980s, Harvey Nichols was a driving force in the introduction of mixed collections, encouraging the likes of Max Mara and Nicole Farhi to design a variety of pieces, rather than focusing on a single department - as was the norm. Four of the six floors were devoted to fashion, with ‘Zone’ in the basement catering specifically to teenagers. Princess Diana was a regular client and would reserve a spot at the back of the restaurant. In 1985, Harvey Nichols was bought by the Burton Group.
In 1991, Harvey Nichols was bought by Dickson Poon of Dickson Concepts (International) Ltd. Subsequently, the store underwent a transformative refurbishment. A new Restaurant, Café, Bar and Foodmarket opened on the Fifth Floor, with a unique express lift that allowed for later opening hours after the main store closed. This concept proved immensely popular, earning Harvey Nichols a lasting reputation for fashionable fine dining and a Champagne lifestyle.
In 1996, Harvey Nichols Group plc was listed on the London Stock Exchange, and launched the OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie on London’s South Bank. In 1996, a national expansion began with the launch of Harvey Nichols Leeds, followed by the first international store in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2000.
Today, Harvey Nichols has seven stores within the UK and Ireland, consisting of four large-format stores in London, Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester, and three small-format stores in Birmingham, Bristol and Dublin. In addition, Beauty Bazaar, Harvey Nichols Liverpool is a unique beauty concept store, housed over three floors within Liverpool ONE. There are also five large-format stores overseas: one in Riyadh, one in Dubai, two in Hong Kong and one in Kuwait. A further store will be opening in Doha, Qatar, in spring 2017.