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protesters trash Fortnum and Mason! Not.

2011 March 31
by David Smith

When I heard that protesters from UK Uncut had occupied Fortnum and Mason’s store in London’s Piccadilly I had visions of jars of pickle being smashed all over the floor and loose tea floating like confetti down the spiral staircase. But I was mistaken. Despite some lazy press reports to the contrary Fortnum and Mason were subject to a peaceful protest against the owners’ alleged tax avoidance with minimal damage to the shop and it’s stock. The store claims it lost £80,000 of business (source: The Independent) because of the protest but I imagine that the free advertising the store has enjoyed since then from being mentioned in all the news stories would more than offset the cost of lost business.


I confess I enjoy shopping at Fortnum and Mason. Yes, I know it is a tourist trap; yes, I know they play on the royal connection; yes, their prices are sky high but you are invariably paying for high quality produce. The staff are knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. How many shops can you say that about? Despite Fortnum and Mason’s reputation as grocers to the rich I’ve never encountered a snobby attitude from the staff towards ordinary customers. The only elitism is in the prices.



There was a very witty Tweet from comedian @simonblackwell about the protest “according to police, £15,000 worth of damage inside Fortnum & Mason. Someone knocked over a jar of olives” Funny. To give you some idea of real prices I recently paid £4.75 for a jar of delicious plum chutney and £9.95 for a box of the best Florentines you can buy anywhere in the UK. So you wouldn’t want to do your regular shopping there (unless you’re an oligarch or a former member of the Bullingdon club). I visit the place about once a year to buy foodie presents and a few treats for myself. I always buy some of the Florentines and usually a couple jars from the huge and unusual range of chutneys, pickles and jams on sale. Sadly, my family have already scoffed all the Florentines but the plum chutney is still going. I may well have some with my lunch today.

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