Harrods managing director Michael Ward has hit out at government policies that he claims are deterring wealthy visitors.
The luxury department store boss believes the onerous Chinese visa application process, stamp duty increase and sanctions on ‘non-doms’, who reside in tax havens, are hitting London trade.
“London is doing OK, but I wouldn’t say it’s doing well. There are certain worrying developments,” Ward told the Mail on Sunday.
“It’s a signal. It’s like walking into someone’s house – you get a feeling for whether you are welcome or not. It’s just a little bit of something not very pleasant.”
It follows a speech last week by chancellor George Osborne in which he promised to make the UK China’s “best partner in the West”.
“Whatever George says to the Shanghai stock exchange – it’s total twaddle. We should be more welcoming to different nationalities,” Ward said.
It echoes calls from experts who in August told Drapers the government must do more to help retailers capitalise on the opportunity Chinese tourists present to the UK.
Ward is also among the UK retail bosses who have pledged to create thousands of jobs if Sunday hours are extended.
Harrods is relaunching its website in a two-phase programme starting in July next year.