Harrods owner Mohammed Al Fayed told employees today that the iconic Knightsbridge department store is not for sale.

In the last few weeks speculation had mounted that the store was set to be bought by a Qatari bidder, believed to be the nation’s government.

In a statement this afternoon, Harrods director of public affairs Katharine Witty said: “We do not comment on rumours or speculation. That is neither to confirm nor deny that any discussions have taken place to sell the store.

“However, for some time we have been aware of gossip circulating over a possible sale, and we took the decision to reassure staff this morning that this was not the case via a store-wide announcement. We are happy to confirm that Harrods is not for sale and is not being sold.”

Harrods was bought by Fayed in 1985 for £615m.