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Will Fortnum & Mason’s second London store dilute the brand name?

June 7, 2013


The opening of British retailer Fortnum & Mason’s second London-based store in its 307-year history will not cannibalize its core location on London’s Piccadilly, experts say.

The second Fortnum & Mason retail outlet will open in November and generate 25 new jobs, according to a report on The Telegraph. In major retail cities such as London, brands and retailers that have traditionally operated only one location can find opportunities for growth among new demographics.

“The reality is that department stores can support multiple locations in the same city that correspond to the many demographics that exist within the city footprint,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, Boston.

“The ethnicity, demographics and psychographics can vary greatly from one section of the city to the next and the savvy luxury retailer needs to micro-assort to match the clientele,” she said.

Mr. Morris is not affiliated with Fortnum & Mason, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Fortnum & Mason did not respond before press deadline.

The big move

Various reports June 6 stated that Fortnum & Mason will open a new location in the former ticket hall at London's St Pancras train station.

In The Telegraph’s report, Fortnum & Mason chief executive Ewan Venters stated, “Thirty-five million people a year go through the station, and nearly a quarter of those people are going there to shop rather than to travel.”

International railway Eurostar passes through London St Pancras, so Fortnum & Mason’s soon-to-be-opened store is likely to attract international customers.

The retailer is tailoring its product range with on-the-go items meant for travelers as well as its traditional homewares and food and personal care items.

Mr. Venters also said that there are new areas for growth in London that are north and east from the Piccadilly location, hence the decision for a second outlet.

The new store is Fortnum & Mason’s second standalone location in London, though it has staged airport concessions including one at Heathrow's Terminal 5, according to The Telegraph.

Fortnum & Mason also opened two stores in Japan in 2004, according to a report on Financial Times.

“Shifts in population affect retail,” said Chris Ramey, president of Affluent Insights, Miami, FL. “Stores have to expand to wherever their best customers and best prospects may be.

“The purpose of this store is to serve the on-the-go customer,” he said. “It will not cannibalize their current business.”

Crown jewels

Fortnum & Mason recently expanded its business with the addition of a jewelry department  at the 181 Piccadilly store and on its British ecommerce site.

Jewelry online 

The new department showcases established and up-and-coming British jewelry designers. Categories offered include earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and cufflinks.

Designers represented in the new retail department include Alex Monroe, Alice Menter, Bex Rox, Bijoux Heart, Carlos Maronna, Catherine Zoraida, Jessica De Lotz, Katie Hillier, Katie Rowland, Kikamishto, Majorica, Melanie Georgacopoulos, Missoma, Stephen Webster, Tomasz Donocik and Vivienne Westwood.

The retailer is likely stepping out of its comfort zone to show consumers that it is more than a home shop, but also a luxury lifestyle brand.

Fortnum & Mason launched the new product category with an in-store exhibit of new collections from the British Fashion Council’s Rock Vault designers. The Rock Vault program raises awareness of new jewelry designers in London.

The exhibit was curated by British jeweler Stephen Webster, who is also a featured artisan in the new department (see story).

“There are few responsibilities more important than managing the evolution of clients, locations, merchandising and brands,” Mr. Ramey said.

Final Take
Tricia Carr, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York