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Fortnum's keen to shed Hogwarts' image

Published:  23 July, 2008

by Rebecca Gibb
Fortnum & Mason wants to leave behind its dusty old Hogwarts image' with a 24-million revamp.

Wine buyer Tim French was eager to show off the new wine department at the 300-year-old store in Piccadilly, London. The department has tripled in size and increased the number of lines from 800 to 1,000. There is also a wine bar, 1707, within the department, where customers can buy a bottle off the shelf and take it into the bar for 10 corkage.

French told Harpers: I want to get rid of the image that Fortnum's is a dusty and stuffy place, full of old people.' But despite this, the male staff were still dressed in red tails.

Since French joined Fortnum's three years ago, turnover has increased 15% year on year and online sales are up 100% a year - but from a very small base, he admitted. The average bottle spend in-store is 19.80, but the greatest earner is the corporate gifting sector.

French is fiercely proud of the Fortnum's own-label. He said that while his main competitors, Berry Bros & Rudd and Harrods, had their own label, they were designed for entry-level drinking'.

He added: I'm in a unique position to knock on some very influential doors and develop my own-label range with stimulating wines. I can get small parcels of exciting wines because every single winemaker wants their wine on my list.'