The famous luxury department store was founded in 1705 as a grocery store by Hugh Mason, who had a small store in St James Market and the Fortnum family who had arrived in London as high class builders, reinvigorating Mayfair in the wake of the Great Fire. William Fortnum, who was quite the entrepreneur, also took a post as Footman in Queen Anne’s household. Fortnum's reputation was built on supplying quality food, and saw rapid growth throughout the Victorian era.
Though Fortnum's developed into a department store, it continues to focus on stocking a variety of exotic, speciality and also 'basic' provisions. Fortnum & Mason is famed for its loose-leaf tea and its world-renowned luxury picnic hampers, which the store first distributed to Victorian High Society for events such as the Henley Regatta and Ascot Races. These hampers – which contain luxury items such as Stilton cheese, champagne, quails' eggs and smoked salmon – remain popular today, especially at Christmas time and can cost up to £25,000.
The company’s first online store launched in 1999 with just hampers, but soon the range grew to include classic gifts from our Food Hall and by the turn of the millennium the site featured over 800 products. In 2013 the store opened an additional outlet at St Pancras and in 2014 it opened a store in Dubai, and one in Terminal 5 at Heathrow
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