Fortnum & Mason enjoyed a record festive period, as customers flocked to high-end Christmas gifts, including the retailer’s signature hampers.
Like-for-like sales up to 1 January increased by 16 per cent on the previous year, driven by a 22 per cent increase in online sales for the year.
Indeed, Fortnum’s online trading contributed 34 per cent of sales over the Christmas trading period, as customers avoided the rush of record footfalls in the run-up to the big day. However, the retailer has not revealed the contributions of its three stores or sales growth, which it says is "significant" in each.
Footfall increased by 10 per cent at the flagship Piccadilly store, which saw a record 27,000 people come through its doors on the Saturday before Christmas.
Sales in the bakery department grew by 23 per cent, while the symbolic hamper sales grew by 19 per cent year on year.
Why it's interesting
The Weston dynasty certainly like their clothing: high-end retailer Fortnum & Mason is privately owned by the family’s Wittington Invesments – owners of Associated British Foods (ABF). ABF in turn owns Primark, which sits right at the other end of the spectrum.
The divergence in performance tells its own story: Primark’s lack of like-for-like sales growth led ABF’s share price down by over four per cent after it announced results during Thursday’s bumper retail results day.
Fortnum & Mason, on the other hand, seems to be proving adept at handling the transition to online – although its bricks and mortar presence since 1707 remains an integral part of the brand.
The international appeal of British luxury seems to be holding up as well, with customers ordering expensive items to 121 countries before Christmas – with shops for well-heeled visitors in Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and St Pancras station adding to the company’s presence.
Whether luxury spending holds up over the following year remains to be seen, of course – although it can't be harmed by the fall in the pound making the shop even more attractive for wealthy tourists.
What Fortnum & Mason said
Ewan Venters, chief executive of Fortnum & Mason, said:
At the end of a year of great financial uncertainty and upheaval, these are very encouraging results. Our excellent Christmas performance is a reflection on the improvements we have made in our offering across online and our range of stores, and is testament to the enduring appeal of great products and impeccable service.
The retail stalwart was not hampered in 2016 as it capped off a year of record profits with a Christmas sales growth gift to itself.