Ford and Harrods

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    Feb 04, 2013
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Henry Ford Museum  in 2007
Henry Ford Museum in 2007
Photo by Hugo90

Henry Ford is a man who has transformed the world. The car he built and the changes he made on the techniques of industrial production revolutionized the lives of people everywhere. Ford introduced mass production assembly line techniques. In 1913 Ford conducted his first test of assembly line manufacture. He drew up the techniques which he had observed in a Chicago meat packing plant where an overhead trolley moved the carcasses of animals from one butcher to another; as each butcher had a special job, he could do his cutting work faster and more efficiently than when he had to cut up the whole animal by himself. The assembly line revolutionized car production.

A chassis that formerly took twelve and a half hours to build in the shop, now rolled off the assembly line in an hour and a half. Ford also introduced the $5.00 wage for an eight-hour day. Such a salary was unheard of in 1914, and he attracted both national and international attention when he began this practice.

Henry Charles Harrod, a tea merchant, took over a small grocer`s shop in the unfashionable and indeed rough village of Knightsbridge in 1849. He had two assistants and a turnover of 20 pounds a week. His son, Charles Digby Harrod, then aged twenty, bought it in 1861, taking three years to pay his father for it. By 1868 turnover was 1,000 pounds a week; two years later he had sixteen assistants, but his total wages bill was still a mere 15 pounds a week. By 1874 there were nearly one hundred staff working from 7 a.m. till 8 p.m. and fines of 1 p were imposed for each quarter of an hour they were late in the morning.

On 6 December 1883 the store and all his Christmas stock were totally destroyed by fire. The store was rebuilt and reopened by September 1884, and a much impressed clientele flocked back to double the turnover. The year after that Harrods gave credit for the first time. Lily Langtry and Oscar Wilde were early account customers. In 1898 the first escalator in London was installed; an assistant stood at the top with sal volatile and brandy for nervous passengers.

The store`s motto `Everything, Everyone, Everywhere` is rigorously fulfilled. Harrods has the last circulating library in London, and supplies all its own water from three underground wells. It has delivered a Persian carpet to Persia and a refrigerator to Finland; a 35p handkerchief by air to Los Angles and a pound of sausages to a yacht in the Mediterranean. It has recently been nicknamed Harabs, this merely shows the influence of one group of customers who contribute to its half million pounds` worth of sales per day.        




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