F&M at the Serpentine Gallery

F&M at the Serpentine Gallery

This week we had a meeting at Fortnum & Mason and it was interesting to hear their development plans.

I have always pondered how the big three London department stores: Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnums, find their place in the battle for the boutique of choice. Under the management of Ewan Venters the food offer at Selfridges was transformed and now he is a year into applying himself to Fortnums so I have no doubt they will flourish in their fortunes.

It seems clear to me the place that Harrods holds in the Knightsbridge arena and Selfridges has really cornered the contemporary edgy design-led market so where does that leave Fortnums? They are the only ones with true British credentials, a traditional, elegant style and a selection of food & drink that really has destination status worldwide. But the challenge is how to take that into the future. In the capable hands of Mr Venters it seems they are paving their way with aplomb.

Take, for example, their current offer at the Serpentine Gallery Pavillion.

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Every year, the space between the gallery and the park is given over to one well known architect to erect a structure of some sort that will house a Summer experience and with the calibre of commissions they get, the Serpentine really do boast a long legacy of amazing artists including Ai WeiWei, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. This year, it was Sou Fujimoto, the third Japanese architect and the youngest person so far, who took over the space. It’s one of the few cultural experiences in London that I make a point of visiting each year and so today I ventured down.

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I did of course have another ulterior motive, which was to see the food offer that Fortnums created there. If this is a reflection of where they are going, then all will be well. The team are decked up in a trendy t-shirt and converse trainer uniform which nods to the formality with a waistcoat & tie printed on and the offer is cleverly conceived with easy to serve pre-packed boxes of treats.

Making up our Hamperling

Making up our Hamperling

You can opt for boxes of cakes, sandwiches, salads and other treats, but the hero product is the ‘hamperling‘. This is a hamper on the go created from a clever cardboard construction which opens up to reveal a lunch for one or a plentiful afternoon tea for two combining the best of the boxes, and costing £25. The food was as fresh as a daisy and looked fabulous spread out on the clever place setting. There was even a disposable rug of sorts for us to create a perfect picnic on this lovely Summer day.

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