With the offer of a scotch egg for the best question and a huge selection of Fortnum and Mason’s chocolates to share with the audience, Ewan Venters, CEO of Piccadilly’s famed emporium went above and beyond at his 60 minutes with the China Exchange audience.
He summarised Fornum’s 300 year old history and shared his experienced in transforming the store to its current success. He focused on the need to modernise while not alienating existing supporters and customers and emphasised the importance of “looking forwards, not back”.
Innovation was a recurring theme – according to Ewan, Fortnum’s was the first shop to bring garlic to the UK and the scotch egg was invented there in 1738 as a convenient handheld meal for the gentry travelling to their country estates.
Ewan has overseen a threefold increase in footfall during his tenure. He emphasised that 20% of sales online and that they now deliver to 120 countries. The audience questions focused on elements of online trading and how this impacts on a traditional store model.
We learned of his early entrepreneurial success selling bread and then his as a trainee at Sainsbury’s including a formative six months as a citrus buyer in Spain. He detailed the impact of his time at Selfridges and how this prepared him for his position at the helm of Fortnum and Mason.
When asked about the key to Fortnum’s success, Ewan answered “The magic of people in a business is what brings longevity. Everyone in the organisation is doing better because of our success”.