Fortnum and Mason staff clad in masks, gloves and visors greeted customers to its Piccadilly flagship store today after it reopened its food halls during the week.
The upmarket London department store opened its main food floors including the basement food hall on Thursday after being closed because of the coronavirus lockdown.
Its partial reopening comes after Selfridge’s opened its food hall on Oxford Street earlier this month as the government begins easing lockdown.
McDonald’s opened 33 of its drive-through restaurants earlier this week as more fast food restaurants begin to open their doors.
The company plans to open the first floor of the store on May 28 and the second and third floors selling clothes and perfumery on June 1, when ‘non-essential’ shops across the UK will be allowed to open.
Fortnum and Mason reopened the foodhalls of its world famous Picadilly department store in London on Thursday as staff wear face masks
Commercial director Lucy Williams told suppliers that the retailer laid out ‘rigorous controls to ensure both our teams’ and our customers’ safety’
Customers queue up while obeying social distance rules inside the store’s food hall today
Shoppers must go round the store in one direction to minimise contact. They are asked to stay two metres apart
Staff also wear personal protective equipment visors as the public are welcomed back into the store
It opened from 11am to 7pm and in-store bars and restaurants were shut in line with lockdown rules.
The company plans to open the first floor of the store on May 28 and the second and third floors on June 1.
Commercial director Lucy Williams told suppliers that the store laid out ‘rigorous controls to ensure both our teams’ and our customers’ safety’.
It has sent guidelines to suppliers on ensuring health and safety when making deliveries direct to the shop.
Chief executive Ewan Venters celebrated the store’s reopening on Thursday.
He said: ‘We’ve been around for 312 years and we are going nowhere, other than getting back to business and serving our customers better than ever before.’
Fortnum and Mason has sent guidelines to suppliers on ensuring health and safety when making deliveries direct to the shop
A customer looks at the Champagne on offer at the store today after the food hall reopened on Thursday
A doorman is quizzed by people about his face shield as he stands outside the main entrance of the store
Chief executive Ewan Venters says ‘we’ve been around for 312 years and we are going nowhere, other than getting back to business and serving our customers better than ever before’
The store’s headquarters at 181 Piccadilly was established in 1707 by William Fortnum and Hugh Mason
The store’s headquarters at 181 Piccadilly was established in 1707 by William Fortnum and Hugh Mason.
It also has stores at St Pancras Rail Station, which it says it aims to open on May 26, and Heathrow Airport.
The company’s reputation was built on supplying quality food as a grocery store and it saw rapid growth throughout the Victorian era leading to worldwide fame.
A history of Fortnum and Masons
The store was co-founded by William Fortnum, a footman for Queen Anne. As a perk he was allowed to take the ends of candles that had burned low in the palace candlesticks.
These he sold to the ladies of the court,doing so well that he joined forces witha local shopkeeper friend, Hugh Mason,and together they opened their groceryshop in Piccadilly.
As the British Empire expanded, sodid the store’s reputation and soon evenBritons abroad came to rely on Fortnum’sfor service and quality.
In the1850s, Queen Victoria ordered the storeto send Florence Nightingale a hugeconsignment of concentrated beef teafor the wounded in the Crimea.
A 1922 Everest expedition set out with60 tins of Fortnum’s quail in foie gras,while officers serving in the far cornersof the Empire could order turtlesoup for eight shillings (£30today) a pint, jugged hare forthree shillings (about £12) andChristmas pudding for £2 2s(£160) a pound.
When Edward, Duke of Windsor,was in France preparingto marry Wallis Simpson afterthe Abdication, he made sureFortnum’s shipped out hisfavourite daily breakfast marmalade and a fresh kipper.
William Fortnum was a footman for Queen Anne and convinced his landlord Hugh Mason to open the store with him.
During the Napoleonic Wars it supplied died fruit, spices and other preserves to British officers.
In the Victorian era it was frequently called upon to provide food for prestigious court functions.
The company also claims to have founded the scotch egg in 1738.
Now, the store has several other departments outside of food, as well as restaurants and cafés, which remain closed for the time being.
In September 2014, the emporium was forced to apologise after it falsely labelled its meat products as coming from the Royal Estate, despite sourcing its pork and bacon products from elsewhere in the country.
It ended its 150-year history as the royal grocer as a result.
Prior to that, the store had been a favourite of the Queen, who regularly visited the iconic Victorian building in Green Park, the heart of London.
Fortnum’s is perhaps most famous for its luxury hampers, which can host thousands of pounds and include goods such as Champagne, caviar, smoked salmon and truffle oil.
Its partial reopening comes after Selfridge’s opened its food hall on Oxford Street earlier this month.
Selfridges was one of the first UK retailers to temporarily close its stores before the Government introduced a nationwide lockdown.
Food director Michael Weber said: ‘We are pleased to be reopening the doors to our food hall and to begin serving our local community once again.
‘We are working hard to ensure our customers and our team members are met with a secure and welcoming environment, including a few Selfridges experiences to bring a little brightness to everyone’s day.’