On the Daily Politics today the Daily Telegraph’s Christopher Hope quoted an MP saying fishing was a small part of its economy “Harrods, the shop, has a bigger turnover than fish in terms of value for this country”. This is something Guido has heard before and read in the FT. Is it true?
According to government statistics, in 2019, the UK imported 721 thousand tonnes of sea fish, with a value of £3,457 million. It exported 452 thousand tonnes with a value of £2,004 million. Harrods turned over £869 million in the same year. So no, it is not true.
UPDATE: The FT’s Chris Giles fairly points out that he didn’t cite turnover when he made the point originally, he used the term “economy of Harrods”.
Neither of us have hard data to hand to prove this for certain either way, however here are some figures that give clues; *
It is for Giles to demonstrate, with data, how Harrods creates more economic value than the fishing industry. So far his claim is just conjecture.
UPDATE II: Giles has taken up the challenge with a lengthy Twitter thread where he explains his reasoning and shows his workings. He calculates the Gross Value Added (GVA) for Harrods to be £437 million, he says (and Guido has not checked) that the ONS estimates the value of the fishing industry to be for the same year up to Q1 2020 to be £436 million. A difference in GVA of £1 million or 0.229% in favour of Harrods.
Giles goes on to try and further argue that the Harrods group’s GVA is far greater – which it will be. However his article talked about “the one store”, not the far flung outlets around the globe, so it would be unfair to include them.
The sharp-eyed might note that Harrods’ financial year end was February and the ONS estimate was up to the end of Q1 – March – which might swing the narrow margin. Assuming it does not, Guido will eat humble fish pie and concede that Harrods, on this technical measure, is bigger than the UK fishing industry. Just.
Guido wonders if GVA is really the best metric, nevertheless, he has offered to bet Giles lunch in Sheekey’s that the GVA of the UK fish industry will be worth more than the GVA of the Harrods store, by much more in 2020. Don’t think he’ll be taking that bet…
*He did it turns out have the data to hand and it wasn’t just conjecture.