Don't Go Hunting for Black Friday Bargains at Harrods

Ward says department stores aren’t innovating.

As U.K. retailers gear up for Black Friday, the annual pre-Christmas sales flurry that provoked scuffles among bargain hunters in past years, the country’s most august department store is having none of it.

“We won’t do Black Friday,” Harrods Ltd. Managing Director Michael Ward said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “That’s not in our DNA.”

The London emporium, which has a customer dress code specifying “proper attire, including tops and shirts,” prefers to sell at full price. Discounting, especially when everyone else is doing it as part of a promotional concept imported from the U.S., “cheapens your brand,” Ward said.

As Brexit jitters dampen the outlook for U.K. holiday spending, other retailers started their Black Friday sales earlier this year and plan to stretch them across a longer period. Instead of competing with the masses, Harrods wants to set itself apart in a manner befitting a retailer that used to hold royal warrants. The Qatar Investment Authority-owned retailer is investing about 200 million pounds ($266 million) to refit stores and develop more experiences to lure shoppers, Ward said.

The retailer’s 27 percent comparable sales growth last year bears out that strategy, Ward said.

— With assistance by Betty Liu

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