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Asia driving Fortnum & Mason growth

Upmarket British department store firm Fortnum & Mason has enjoyed double-digit growth this financial year largely driven by its operations in Asia.

The company’s 2018/19 financial statements show strong international growth of 16 per cent, while growth in Hong Kong and Japan stands at 28 per cent.

The store recently launched a new flagship branch in Hong Kong (encompassing a shop and restaurant) as its first standalone location in Asia, intending to reduce its reliance on the UK and capitalise on international demand for British goods. 

‘‘Fortnum & Mason has delivered another year of strong sales growth, with revenue rising to £138 million as its proposition proves to be the right cup of tea for shoppers,” said GlobalData retail analyst Emily Salter. “Though total revenue was bolstered by the opening of its new Royal Exchange restaurant in November 2018, it is clear that its premium and unique products enhanced by its strong British identity resonate well with domestic shoppers and tourists, even in the tough UK trading environment.”

The company is coming under increased pressure from premium department-store competitors, with Selfridges and Harrods investing significantly in their stores. Harrods has restored its food halls, and Selfridges has renovated numerous areas of its flagship London location to boost footfall, as well as improving the experiential elements of its store, adding restaurants and a cinema.

The brand’s Hong Kong launch coincides with a period of heavy political turmoil for the territory, prompting some criticism of Fortnum & Mason’s sense of timing.

“It’s not our place to get overly political,” said Fortnum & Mason CEO Ewan Venters. “We are an English brand that goes out into the world to sell tea, biscuits and jam. We are continuing to trade as we would normally but we are being respectful of what is going on in the country – there was no launch party for example as it just wouldn’t have felt right.” Venters added.

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