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Inside Fortnum & Mason – what it’s really like to work there

Also known as “the Queen’s grocer”, Fortnum & Mason employs more than 700 people across its flagship London store and four other locations.

Its famous address is 181 Piccadilly in the St James’s area of London, though additional stores exist at The Royal Exchange, St Pancras railway station, Heathrow Airport, and at the K11 Musea in Hong Kong.

While people across the world know of the luxury food emporium that has been at the centre of high society for three centuries, staff who have worked for the global empire say there’s more than meets the eye.

As the go-to for the Royal Family among other high-status names, there’s a world of things to see and hear inside the store.

Staff have spilt the surprising secrets online, including why it’s “the worst” place to work over Christmas.

Writing for BuzzFeed, contributor Sophie Hines claimed: “Working in the Food Hall at Christmas is the actual worst.

“Everyone in this country comes in to buy their grandmother some Fortnum’s tea and jam for their stocking.”

But there’s not just one type of jam to choose from, in fact, there are “more than you could ever imagine” that retail for upwards of £5.95 a jar, in endless flavours and textures.

The same goes for tea too, with a blend for every day of the week and occasion for that matter.

High price tags extend to all of the luxury products at Fortnum & Mason, even simple pleasures like jars of dolly mixture and foam sweets.

According to staff, they sell for a generous £6.50 each rather than old-school pennies-per-gram measures. That said, Sophie claimed that this makes it easy to quickly lose a grasp on the measure of “normal prices”, adding that staff handle copious amounts of cash on a daily basis.

Of course, with such an upper-class status, Fortnum & Mason attracts a certain clientele – many of whom still call their parents “mother and father” as revealed in the BuzzFeed article. It read that the average customer in their twenties is accustomed to using the term “mummy” too.

Some of the teams that work in the massive department store aren’t far-detached from the customer base with a generous portion of them claiming to be on a gap year preparing for a trip to South East Asia.

An equally large proportion of the employees are a fountain of knowledge, with many having worked there for decades – some even 50 years.

All that said, the employee noted that there is a unique charm to working somewhere that “always feels a bit fabulous” – particularly at this time of year when it resembles something straight out of a Christmas film.

And the employee benefits aren’t bad either, with a good staff discount making it easy to get birthday and Christmas gifts for a better price.

However, it still doesn’t change the fact that even the Christmas decorations will always be “posher” than anyone who works there, as told by Sophie.


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