Fortnum and Mason’s chief Aspinall quits

 
Kasmira Jefford
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FORTNUM AND MASON’S chief executive is to step down after seven years at the helm of the Queen’s grocer “to pursue new challenges.”

Retail veteran Beverley Aspinall will leave her post at the world-famous food emporium, at the end of May, the company said in a statement.

Aspinall, 52, who joined the luxury retailer in 2005 after a 25 year career at the John Lewis said: “I feel the time is right to move to new challenges.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Fortnum & Mason and managing the business through some key times of change and historic moments.”

Aspinall kicked-off her career at Fortnum and Mason after being headhunted to oversee the £24m refurbishment of its Piccadilly store to mark its 300th anniversary two years later.

She took on the top job when Fortnum made a pre-tax loss of £1.2m on sales of £39m and will leave the group after delivering record sales of £54.9m in the year to July 2011, despite shouldering the costs of a UK Uncut protest over tax evasion last year.

Aspinall will leave after putting in place the preparations for the Diamond Jubilee campaign, which was marked by the recent visit of the Queen, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The company, which is owned by the Canadian Weston family, has also expanded its footprint abroad under Aspinall’s stewardship, with several concession stores in Japan, where it takes space in the shops of retailer Mitsukoshi, alongside a wholesale business that spans more than 17 countries.

Kate Hobhouse, the company’s chairman, said in a statement: “I would like to thank Beverley for her hard work and loyalty over the past seven years and wish her every success in the future.”