Fortnum & Mason plan rapid food delivery service

Fortnum & Mason have announced its plans to enter the booming rapid food delivery sector amid an online expansion after pandemic severely impacted sales at the flagship London store.

“The underlying story [this year] has been one of growth online. We thought this would slow after the shops reopened but it hasn’t,” chief executive Tom Athron told the Financial Times.

Revenue taken from its ecommerce operation was over half the total in the year to 11 July, compared with a fifth before the pandemic.

“Sales to UK-based customers have basically doubled. We are showing up in people’s lives for more than just treats and gifting,” Athron added.

He believes that customer expectations in the on-demand market are in the process of being “fundamental reset,” and that the luxury brand is looking to enter into the market.

“Clearly the demand for emergency Florentines is going to be limited,” he acknowledged, but also adding that the appeal of quick delivery of the company’s famous picnics and hampers was clear and obvious.

“We will probably do it in partnership, but I don’t just want to list items on Amazon or Gorillas, that would be the wrong way to go about it.”

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Currently the brand has no plans to open more stores in the UK beyond its famed West End flagship location and the number of satellites in the city and at travel hubs.

“In a world of constrained capital I would rather invest online. I can understand why Selfridges and Harvey Nichols expanded outside of London, but they took those decisions many years ago,” Athron continued.

The flagship location will remain the focus of the company’s investment despite a hit to the footfall which resulted in a £2.7 million loss for the year to July 2021.

Fortnum & Mason recorded a £600,000 profit in the year before and Athron was slightly less optimistic about the number of tourists that would be coming through the doors, saying that he thought it would take longer than he initially thought to recover.

“But if anything, that means we should invest more in Piccadilly so it becomes even more of a destination,” he said.

As part of the company’s strategy to expand its online presence, Athron said that the company was pondering theatre kitchens with the capability of live-streaming, which is starting to gain traction in the west after amassing huge popularity in China and the Far East.

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