Co-op chief to ration her children’s Christmas presents as ‘times are difficult’

Shirine Khoury-Haq

New Co-op chief executive Shirine Khoury-Haq will be rationing Christmas gifts to her twins as “times are difficult and Father Christmas must prioritise those most in need”. 

Khoury-Haq told the Sunday Times that her six-year-old twin daughters were “dealing with” their mother’s imposition of a one-gift rule. She added that in previous years she had given her daughters an “embarrassing” number of gifts, but such largesse felt morally unjustified in the current economic climate. 

“It just feels like excess, given what’s happening in the world. In good conscience, I can’t do that in my own home,” Khoury-Haq said. 

“The rest of our budget will be given to Santa to provide presents for children whose parents can’t contribute to the elves. We’re going to go out shopping for those other presents and [we will] send them to Santa.” 

She told the publication that the cost-of-living crisis was “undeniable now and people are having to make choices about whether they keep their homes warm or they put food on the table”. This leaves parents “making choices about whether they eat or their children eat” – many for the first time. 

Her basic salary is £750,000 a year before a bonus, which can take her total pay package to well over £1 million, Sunday Times reported. She is the first woman to lead the Co-op since it was founded in 1863

The 51-year-old’s revelation comes as it emerged that she has decided against producing a Co-op Christmas advertising campaign that was likely to cost up to £15m. Instead, the Co-op is promoting the expansion of a chain of subsidised supermarkets called Your Local Pantry. Under the scheme, those struggling to make ends meet pay a small entry fee in return for grocery items they need. 

Explaining the idea to ITV’s Good Morning Britain last week, she said: “People can go in for between £4 and £5 and get groceries that are many more times that amount. 

“People need help accessing food for the first time ever, and they don’t want a handout; they want to hand up and they want to be able to choose the foods they want.”