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Fortnum & Mason to Expand to Japan

LONDON - High-end retailer Fortnum & Mason announced yesterday that it will open its first overseas stores, according to published reports. The well-known company, which supplies the Queen Elizabeth II's foodstuffs, will stock 250 typically British items in two new stores in Japan.

The locations will include a teashop offering a variety of Fortnum & Mason's famous luxury blends, as well as cream scones and a range of cakes.

The company, in conjunction with Japanese retailer Mitsukoshi, will launch its first outlet in the latter firm's Tokyo food hall in October. Another Fortnum & Mason Concept Shop, selling the same variety of biscuits, jams, mustards, and pies, will open in Nagoya next spring. As Fortnum's profits have dropped 80 percent since peaking eight years ago, the retailer is hopeful that the new venture will increase its foreign turnover.

Earlier in the year Fortnum said it would no longer distribute its products overseas through local wholesalers. Under the new strategy the company will sell goods directly through a retailer, giving Fortnum more control over how products are marketed and sold in other countries.

Managing director Stuart Gates said he was sure the shops would be popular in Japan. "International sales have always been a key element of Fortnum's business, and we are very pleased to be launching our international strategy in Japan -- our strongest export market," he noted. "We look forward to becoming the leading U.K. retailer of quality branded foods in Japan."

In addition to the products from Fortnum's Piccadilly location, the stores in Japan will also feature a bakery and a takeout lunch service. An assortment of Japanese items will also be available.

If the stores do well, Fortnum & Mason, which will mark its 300th anniversary in 2007, would consider opening stores in such other countries as the United States.
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