Beverley Aspinall: Racing against time at Fortnum’s


I am a once-a-year shopper at Fortnum & Mason in London’s Piccadilly.  Every Christmas I push passed out of town visitors and tourists to buy one of their famous puddings and now have I collection of bowls to prove it.

So it seems that I am the typical customer Beverley Aspinall is trying to encourage to use the 300 year old Fortnums as my local shop and get the store back into the black after it recorded its first ever loss of £1.5 million on sales of 39 million last year.

Its a tough challenge but Beverley who at 47 was appointed Fortnum’s managing director last year, is tackling it was a relish and a £24 million budget to spend on turning the store inside out.

Out are the clothing departments to focus on what Fortnum’s does best: food and drink and ‘entertaining’ – cookware, china, table linens and ‘celebrating’ – gifts, scarves and jewellery.  A lightwell is being installed from the roof to the bottom, so those on the ground floor can look up to the higher levels and down to the basement, and see other sales floors.  Finally the store’s three restaurants will become five and updated without losing the character, history and heritage.

Beverley has done it all before….she oversaw the £100 million refit of Peter Jones, the John Lewis store in Sloane Square.  It took five years and she carried on trading throughout the rebuilding, bringing in the project on time and on budget. 

She aims to do the same at the much smaller Fortnums where the work is scheduled to take two years.

“There’s no question of the revamp being delayed. We’ve a tercentenary coming up – we can’t be late, we have to have it finished”, she says.

Thanks for reading Big Business

David Davis


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