Fortnum & Mason boss Ewan Venters said it is expecting to toast a sparkling Christmas after it posted record full-year results.

Ewan Venters unveils Fortnum & Mason's Christmas windows

Fortnum & Mason revealed record full-year pre-tax profits of £3.8m for the 12 months to July 31, 2014, more than double the £1.8m last year. Sales were up 14% to £74.4m.

Fortnum & Mason chief executive Ewan Venters told Retail Week that he was feeling optimistic about Christmas – the busiest trading period of the year for the retailer, famous for its gift hampers.

“Christmas should be successful. We have lots of additional points of distribution with our Heathrow store and our pop-up store at Somerset House.

“Plus our Piccadilly store has never looked so good. We’ve got a great management team and our hamper sales are currently trading 16% up on last year, which is a good indication [for Christmas].

“We’re all ready for a successful Christmas.”

Brand awareness

Venters also said the retailer was enjoying a boom in the number of domestic visitors on the back of its strategy to increase brand awareness on its home turf.

Fortnum & Mason is sponsoring the ice rink at Somerset House over Christmas and last summer it partnered with foodie festival Port Eliot in Cornwall.

He said that these initiatives, alongside opening up at London’s St Pancras railway station, had helped boost the number of customers to its Piccadilly store.

“From a customer point of view, we’re experiencing a significant shift towards more domestic visitors. It’s incredibly encouraging.

“In the last six months, 71% of all credit card transactions were made using cards registered in the UK. Around two years ago, this was about 50%.”

The retailer is also running three pop-ups stores at Hong Kong department store Lane Crawford over the Christmas period.

Venters said strong demand for Fortnum & Mason products such as tea and hampers at the temporary shops was so strong that the retailer sold out of its stock after a couple of weeks.

Asked whether the pop-ups could lead to permanent Fortnum & Mason store in Hong Kong, Venters said: “Well it’s like any strategic partnership – pop-ups are a good way to test the water. I’m not suggesting we will but it’s definitely a good omen for demand.

“We’ve discovered that 95% of our customers there are Hong Kong Chinese or Chinese mainland so it’s locals rather than expats buying.”