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Department Store Boss Defends Santa’s Grotto That Costs £2,000 A Ticket

by : Cameron Frew on : 23 Dec 2019 12:38
Harrods Michael WardHarrods Michael WardPA Images

If I’m paying £2,000 to sit on Santa’s lap, it had better come with more than a present. 

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Harrods is the centre-stage department store of luxury in London. Lording above the pedestrians in Knightsbridge and covering more than a million square feet of shop-floor space, its 170-year reign in the UK’s capital shows no signs of stopping.

For decades, the store’s very own Santa’s grotto has been a fixture of Christmas shoppers’ holiday traditions. However, with a new mandatory expenditure of £2,000 required for admittance, it appears that ‘greed, for lack of a better word, is good’.

London - Harrods department storeLondon - Harrods department storePA Images

In the face of public anger, Harrods chief Michael Ward doesn’t see the problem – he’s after the people who aren’t concerned about money. ‘They’re not waiting for the credit card bill to come through in January. We very much target the most affluent. And we’ve been unapologetic about that,’ he told The Telegraph.

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The 63-year-old – who was brought in by Harrods’ former owner Mohamed Al-Fayed in 2006 – even went as far as to say, in response to those missing out on the grotto, ‘I’m sorry, that’s life.’

Michael Ward HarrodsMichael Ward HarrodsPA Images

Ward said: 

I’m absolutely unapologetic. If you’re really good customers, and you’ve got two lovely young children, why wouldn’t I provide them with the experience of a lifetime as opposed to giving it somebody who I’ll never see again in my life?

So I’m sorry, that’s life.

The store’s decision to implement a minimum spend was not greeted to well by the public, accusing Ward of acting like the ‘Grinch who stole Christmas’ (last year, Harrods turned a whopping profit of £171 million).

While the department store boss may remain unapologetic about the policy, Harrods have made a concession in response to the backlash: 160 lower-spending families will be afforded the chance to visit the grotto for free, mixed in among the 4,400 10-minute appointments to see Santa.

Michael Ward HarrodsMichael Ward HarrodsPA Images

James Browne, a dad who has visited Harrods’ grotto every year with his son, told The Guardian

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Harrods is behaving like the Grinch who stole Christmas. They have lost the true meaning of Christmas and given into the commercialisation of the season.

Visiting Father Christmas shouldn’t be reserved for those that are fortunate enough to frequent the store and spend thousands of pounds. A visit to Father Christmas at a magical shop like Harrods should be for all.

In addition to the cost of a shopping spree, parents still need to fork out £20 for their child to see Santa. The 160 families were selected through the ‘wishing well’, with 10 names chosen each name until the slots were filled.

To Harrods: ‘Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!’

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: News, Christmas, Harrods, London, Money, Santa Claus

Credits

The Telegraph and 1 other
  1. The Telegraph

    Harrods boss Michael Ward: No apologies for our £2,000 Santa's Grotto

  2. The Guardian

    Harrods limits Christmas grotto to £2,000-plus spenders