Fortnum & Mason’s Scots-born boss hails ‘exceptional’ trading

Ewan Venters: 'This year has not been without its challenges.' Picture: Toby Williams
Ewan Venters: 'This year has not been without its challenges.' Picture: Toby Williams
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Fortnum & Mason, the iconic London-based retailer run by Scots-born chief executive Ewan Venters, has unveiled rising profits helped by a jump in sales of tea and biscuits.

Overall sales in the year to July were up 12 per cent, reaching £126 million, while profits jumped 26 per cent to £9.6m.

The result marks the sixth successive year of double-digit sales growth for the 311-year-old retailer, as well as a rare bright spot in an embattled retail sector.

Venters, who was born in Fife, said: “This year has not been without its challenges, but we’re proud to report another exceptional trading period.

“By being faithful to our heritage and pedigree, focusing on the creation of extraordinary products and exceptional service, and delivering our world-renowned products to customers anywhere in the world, I am pleased that we are able to meet the growing demand for quality and impeccably-sourced products.”

Loose leaf tea and British biscuits both notched up sales rises of more than a fifth during the period, as more consumers turned to the traditional department store for their afternoon tea supplies.

Overseas growth also provided a boost, as the firm opened two new shops in South Korea.

Online shoppers from 125 countries ordered products, with a particularly strong 55 per cent hike in orders to Hong Kong.

In the domestic UK market, like-for-like sales at the Piccadilly flagship store rose 10 per cent while the restaurant 45 Jermyn St was up 18 per cent.

Kate Hobhouse, chair of Fortnum & Mason, which was founded in 1707, said: “London is, and always will be, a great place to do business, and we have taken the quality that Fortnum’s can offer to the beating heart of the City.”