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      Interview: Harrods’ Tracy Finn on the evolution of corporate gifting

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      Omnia Omnibus Ubique…that’s Harrods’ motto and is Latin for ‘All things for all people, everywhere’. And that slogan couldn’t be more appropriate for the department store’s bespoke corporate gift offering. Jade Burke speaks with Tracy Finn, head of corporate service at Harrods, to find out how the traditional ‘corporate’ gift has evolved and why it can offer something for every budget.

      harrods Hamper

      Harrods Hamper

      “Christmas is busy and everyone is looking for ideas that are going to set them apart and that’s where we come into play,” Tracy Finn, head of corporate service at Harrods, tells PA Life.

      “The season is a stressful time, and we see our service as an add-on to that; assisting PAs to make things easier.”

      There’s no doubt about it, Harrods is a globally recognised brand – the department store was founded in 1834 – that’s known for its decadent and luxurious retail space. Inside it plays host to over 330 departments spanning from food and beauty to fine watches and travel goods that cover around 1.1 million sq ft. But let’s not forget the corporate service department, where team members are on hand to ensure they find customers the perfect gift for whatever occasion.

      Christmas is a traditional time within a corporate calendar, where gifting is really important and I don’t see that changing.
      Tracy Finn

      Three years ago, the department celebrated a milestone – its 25th birthday – and has since gone on to provide cutting-edge gift ideas available for all budgets that feature personalisation, gift wrapping and much more.

      “Mr Mohamed Al-Fayed, who owned Harrods at the time, saw a gap in terms of the corporate service,” explains Finn.

      “There were people in the hamper department and he could see there were a lot of companies ordering them for Christmas, so I think the idea came about that we should create a team that would look after these customers.”

      Something for everyone

      What with Christmas less than four months away, now is the time to begin preparations and start that all-important gifting list. “Harrods isn’t only for the big budget purchases. We have a range of things that we can offer, with our branding as well. It could be a Christmas-themed tin of biscuits, which is an entry-level price point, up to something like our ultimate hamper that is £5,000.”

      The corporate service at Harrods covers all manner of items, from pens, watches, technology, fashion accessories, food, drink and perfume – it essentially includes everything the department store stocks. But the idea of gift certainly has evolved over time, as Finn shares: “Corporate gifting has changed over the years. It’s not mouse mats, USB keys and paperweights anymore. It’s very much tailor-made to the recipients and something that’s going to be valuable and they’re going to really use it in their day-to-day life.”

      But it’s not just physical items that are proving popular, experiential gifts are starting to feature heavily on many peoples’ wish lists and Harrods has taken note. Inside the store, employers or employees could gift a Harrods gift card or a shopping experience for a fellow colleague. Afternoon tea is also available inside the newly launched Harrods Tea Rooms if recipients are seeking something a little more special.

      Giving a gift that personal touch is incredibly sought after, which has led to an increase in engraving and personalisation at Harrods. For example, the team can hot stamp on leather goods, embroid fabric, engrave bottles of champagne, provide Harrods-branded message cards and gift wrap items.

      “There’s definitely a trend for personalisation and elevating the every day to the next level and making it something special and specific to the recipient. Newly launching we’ve got a Harrods Hair and Beauty gift card, which will be available in time for the season.”

      So, what would Finn say is the most exceptional gift available? “With the hampers, we have got the ultimate, which is worth £5,000 and that’s the creme de la crème of everything “Then across the store we will have exceptional launches. Some of the Christmas launches are still coming through, but we have also got the Harrods Beauty Advent Calendar. These calendars have become very popular.”

      Harrods - Advent

      Harrods – Beauty Advent Calendar

      Pressure points

      Harrods’ corporate service prides itself on taking the pressure off customers and making their experience as straightforward as possible.

      “At Christmas, when the pressure does start to ramp up for the PAs, it’s nice to know that you’ve got an established relationship with a department, where you can call an account manager and they’ll assist you in sorting everything out,” Finn reveals.

      We are office based but we can also meet clients face-to-face or at their offices. Plus, they can come into the store and we can meet them there or work over the telephone or email.”

      The team and its service can ensure it will provide an assistant with everything it could need, all in one place – utilising the customers’ time wisely so that they can concentrate on supporting their boss and fulfilling their responsibilities.

      Finn enthuses: “Instead of going to the individual brands, which can be time-consuming, we’ve got everything under the one roof and a team to go and do all the legwork. Because to be running around out of the office and doing it themselves isn’t the best use of a PA’s time. The team in the corporate service are specialists in gift selection, so I think it works well on both sides.”

      Working alongside personal assistants is fundamental to the corporate service at Harrods. Since a PA is often the one tasked with sourcing corporate gifts, they are always on the lookout for a service that is simple and accomplished. And with Christmas just under 100 days away, we’ll be surrounded in tinsel and eating mince pies before we know it, making the need to source those all-important gifts even more urgent.

      “Christmas is a traditional time within a corporate calendar, where gifting is really important and I don’t see that changing,” Finn concludes.

      harrods Hamper

      Harrods Hamper

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      Vincenzo Ferrara

      Vinny Ferrara, Staff Writer for PA Life

      All stories by: Vincenzo Ferrara