My Week: Santa Claus, Santa Enterprises ltd.

In MT's exclusive interview, the man himself talks money worries, Christmas parties and why there are more naughty boys and girls this year than usual.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2013
It’s been a tough old week here in Lapland – then again, it always is during the week leading up to the big day.

At the moment, my days usually start at about 6am with a hearty breakfast – that extra bulk doesn’t hurt when you’ve got a 24-hour open-air sleigh ride in the upper reaches of the troposphere to look forward to – and then it’s down to the workshop to see how the elves are doing.

I’m not going to lie: this year has been difficult. We’ve had to make serious cutbacks because the cost of most of our raw materials went up. The unions weren’t happy and we had a few days’ strike back in the summer, but we managed to negotiate a pay deal whereby the elves get an extra candy cane at Christmas in lieu of their bonus. They seemed happy enough with that, but it didn’t feel good laying off 200 or so during the summer – it’s not exactly peak season for elves. The only saving grace was that, thanks to the rioting in the UK, there are lots of extra names on my Naughty list this year, which has helped to keep costs down.

On Tuesday, we had our Christmas party, which is always a jolly affair. Some of the elves put on a panto every year, and obviously I’m always roped in to play Widow Twanky. This year had a eurozone crisis theme, so I dressed up as Angela Merkel. I put on a powder blue skirt-suit and a brown pudding basin wig. Obviously, a little too much eggnog was consumed by all but on the whole everyone behaved themselves. Well, except Bobbie from accounts and Pippin from HR. But we’ve dealt with that…

On a more serious note, I had a meeting with my investors on Thursday. We decided to take investment back in 2007 to expand the workshop, and at the time, they seemed happy enough to give us as much cash as we needed for a 10% stake in the business. Now, though, they’re worried about my business model. To be honest, I’m not completely convinced they understand. ‘Have you considered charging for your services?’ asked one. Well, I didn’t really know how to react to that. I carefully explained that my margins are actually fantastic, but they’re adamant that mince pies and sherry aren’t a recognised form of currency. So we’ll see what happens on that front.

My other worry at the moment is rising energy prices. Heating the workshop and the grotto is expensive enough, but getting the reindeer fuelled up for our marathon on Christmas eve is threatening to send my overheads through the roof. We were going to have the roof fitted with solar panels, but now they want to reduce the solar subsidy, there doesn’t seem to be any point. If things keep going like this, I might have to leave Donner and Blitzen behind next year. Or I might invest in one of those new electric sleighs. In the long-term, the money you save on reindeer means they pay for themselves…

I try to finish work no later than 8pm, so Mrs Claus and I can have a couple of hours to ourselves. Usually, though, my BlackBerry’s going off at all hours, which drives her bananas. Obviously, this week will come to a close with my annual trip down the chimneys (and into windows/ventilation grates – it’s not easy these days) of 2,322,145,372 children. People are always saying to me, ‘Santa, how do you do it in time?’ But that’s my little secret…

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