Fortnum & Mason's Tests Japanese Market

21 May 2004

Fortnum & Mason, the UK's most upmarket grocery store, is planning to expand overseas.

The family-owned company, whose store in central London is a number-one destination for many overseas tourists, is initially targeting the Japanese market with two shops.

Japan is the 300-year-old retailer's largest export market and it has inked a deal with the Mitsukoshi department store group.

Fortnum's first flagship shop will be in Mitsukoshi's own leading Nihombashi store in Tokyo and is scheduled to open in October.

A second will open in Nagoya next year. If all goes to plan Fortnum's will establish a presence in 15 other markets including the US, Germany, Italy, France and Hong Kong.

The decision to expand internationally is hardly surprising. Exports provide 10% of sales and trading in Fortnum's home market has been poor.

Earlier this year the retailer announced a 40% fall in proifits which in 1997 had peaked at £3.6million ($6.4m; €5.3m).

Fortnum's became a high class grocer to the British royal family and the upper classes at home while supplying delicacies to the British army and colonial administrators during the Empire.

The move is the latest by Fortnum's owner, the Weston family, which also owns upmarket furniture store Heals and the Selfridges department store chain.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff