Harrods has started a £200m redesign to enhance its appeal to shoppers from overseas, especially those from Asia.

The overhaul is the biggest in Harrods’ history and will take place over three years.

The changes will be the most significant since the world-famous shop was opened in 1849, said Harrods boss Michael Ward.

He said an objective of the revamp is to further strengthen Harrods’ appeal to consumers from China and southeast Asia.

“Our Hong Kong and Chinese customers are extremely important to Harrods so are considered part of our redevelopment plans,” Ward said.

“For us, the future is in the East and we have been focusing on that for a number of years.”

Chinese shoppers are the second-highest spenders at Harrods after customers from the UK. One in every £5 that Chinese visitors spend in London is spent at the store.

Work has commenced on enhancements to Harrods’ grade II-listed food halls. The size of the fine watch room and beauty halls will be increased. The store’s famous frontage will not change.

The retailer is also thinking about changes to signage to make navigation easier for Chinese customers and will bolster its presence on popular Chinese social media platforms Weibo and WeChat.

Official figures show the number of Chinese visitors to the UK in the first six months of the year rose by 47% to 115,000. They spent a record £231m in the period, a 54% rise, according to ONS data.