Jan 17, 2022
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Fortnum & Mason has strong Christmas, despite making full-year loss

Jan 17, 2022

Fortnum & Mason had a strong Christmas period, but its latest accounts for the year to last July also showed it swinging to a pre-tax loss for the first time since 2009.

The luxury retailer is best known for its fine foods but also sells a variety of other products, including accessories and beauty items.

In the five weeks to December 26, sales rose 21% year-on-year.

But the firm’s annual accounts filed at Companies House showed it made a £2.7 million loss in the period to July 2021, mainly caused by turnover that fell 6% to £132 million.

Although the company sells online, shopping at Fortnum’s in many people’s minds really is about visiting its historic store on London’s Piccadilly. When open, it buzzes with tourists and shoppers from closer to home. But the year to July 2021 saw two direct lockdowns when it was forced to close, plus a tourism plunge and extreme caution among UK shoppers.

Yet the Christmas 2021 uptick shows that the firm retains its appeal and that there have been some good side-effects of the pandemic due to a drive to lure more UK consumers and its digital growth.

CEO Tom Athron said: “After the inevitable challenges of a year dominated by Covid, we are emerging stronger and more resilient than we were before. We now have a domestic business that has almost doubled in size over the pandemic. Christmas was exceptionally strong as customers put us at the heart of their plans to properly celebrate.”

As mentioned, the company does trade online and it invested heavily in this during the lockdown periods. That meant online sales added up to as much as 30% of the total in 2020 but this figure rose to 55% last year. And as Britons were advised to work from home in December, e-sales rose 65% last month.

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