A First In Asia For Royally-Endorsed Fortnum & Mason, One Of Britain’s Finest Food Emporiums

Britain’s Fortnum & Mason, the go-to choice for hampers, tea, and high-quality gourmet food, has debuted its first store in the Asia travel retail channel at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) through a deal with Lagardère Travel Retail.

The purveyor of top-notch food and drink for over 300 years, has opened in the East Hall luxury zone of the air hub just as it is coming out of an extended Covid hangover thanks to strict testing and quarantine rules that were in place for longer than most other airports in Asia, apart from China.

The 500-square-foot store is throwing its doors open at the right time to cater to outbound Hong Kongers and transiting passengers looking for gifts this holiday season. The space offers a wide assortment of Fortnum & Mason’s most in-demand teas, biscuits, chocolates, tea accessories, and gift boxes along with the brand’s highly sought-after seasonal Christmas collections that are also now in-store.

Tea is a big focus of the shop with part of the space dedicated to a bespoke fixture inspired by the ‘Royal Blend Teacup’. Tea is pivotal to Fortnum & Mason’s stored past; from 1902, its brews came to boast a royal pedigree thanks to a bespoke blend specially created for King Edward VII.

Eudes Fabre, CEO—North Asia at Lagardère Travel Retail, said: “The product offer and eye-catching design are a complement to the exceptional luxury line-up in HKIA’s East Hall.” The hall is home to a slew of luxury brands including Breitling, Burberry, Cartier, Loewe, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent, though some boutiques remain closed due to the low traffic levels.

Lagardère Travel Retail has ensured the store design highlights the Royal Warrants which represent Fortnum & Mason’s long and close relationship with the British royal family, which is expected to help drum up sales. The profile of the British royals is currently riding high thanks to the presence of Prince William and the Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, at the star-studded 2022 Earthshot Prize Awards on Friday while there is endless media discussion about the Netflix mini-series about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle which is set to air on Thursday.

Still some way to go on footfall

The main driver of sales at the new store will, however, be passenger traffic. While it is picking up, numbers have yet to reach one million a month and remain well below pre-pandemic levels. In October, traffic at HKIA hit 755,000, a surge of over 400% over the same period last year. It sounds a lot, but it is still only 13% of the level seen in the same month in 2019.

Commenting on the new airport store—there is one in downtown Hong Kong at the Victoria Harbor Waterfront— Fortnum & Mason’s CEO Tom Athron said: “The addition of our first travel retail boutique in Asia will be a wonderful addition to our flagship in the city . We already serve many sophisticated local consumers in Hong Kong and mainland China and our experience from operating and engaging our customers at our store in London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 gives us great confidence in our first travel retail boutique outside the UK”

Fortnum & Mason is owned by Wittington Investments—led by Canada’s powerful Weston family—which also has a majority stake in Associated British Foods, the owner of value retailer Primark. The Westons sold department store Selfridges earlier this year.