x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Famous luxury retailer to open first shop outside London in Dubai

300-year-old British shop Fortnum and Masons promises to bring unique, high quality teas, confectionery and hampers to the UAE.

The Dubai store is located in a standalone building between The Address Hotel in Downtown and Dubai Mall, and faces on to the fountain. Sarah Dea / The National
The Dubai store is located in a standalone building between The Address Hotel in Downtown and Dubai Mall, and faces on to the fountain. Sarah Dea / The National

DUBAI // The finishing touches are being made to one of the world’s most famous luxury retailers as it prepares to open its first shop outside London.

For more than 300 years the Fortnum and Mason department store has been the preferred shopping destination for royalty and the British elite and, in 24 hours, it will open to the public in the UAE.

Established in Piccadilly in 1707 initially selling candles, over the centuries the store has become a byword for a refined British taste – with prices to match.

The Dubai store is located in a standalone building between The Address Hotel in Downtown and Dubai Mall, and faces on to the fountain.

It is best know for its hampers, as well as its specially selected range of tea, coffee, confectionery and fruit preserves.

“Tea is only second to water in popularity in the UAE so it made perfect sense for us to open a store in Dubai,” said Ewan Venters, chief executive of Fortnum and Mason.

“The opportunity arose to open a store here last summer and things have moved very quickly to get us to the stage where we are now.”

The the 9,400-square-foot store is split into a ground-floor shop that sells the company’s unique hand-made preserves, teas, coffee and confectionery, as well as candles, oils and body washes.

The first floor is a restaurant with seating for 50 people and includes an outdoor area with a view of the Dubai Fountain.

The second floor is the ice-cream parlour, which also has a balcony overlooking the fountain.

“Fortnum and Mason is not just a shop, it’s about having an experience, and with the location we have overlooking one of the most iconic locations in the world,” said Mr Venters.

On the recent controversy surrounding the sale of foie gras in its shop and the campaign by animal-rights group Peta and former James Bond actor Roger Moore to stop it, Mr Venters said there was no plan to sell it in Dubai.

“If you look at what we have on offer at the store, it will be primarily sweet items.

“A savoury item like foie gras would not have fitted into that.”

Special tasting tables will be set up to allow people to try out some of the varieties of tea and jam on sale.

There will be about 60 different varieties of tea, along with 40 different preserves.

Fortnum’s signature tea, the Royal Blend, is an Assam and Ceylon blend that was first served to Edward VII.

A pot of tea for one comes served with milk or lemon and costs Dh40.

Among the other highlights customers can try are the Countess Grey and the Wedding Breakfast teas. The latter was blended for the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Prince William and Kate Middleton.

For those with a sweet tooth, Fortnum is renowned for its Knickerbocker Glory, a strawberry ice-cream layered with a variety of items including pineapple, shortbread and camomile sugar, which will set you back Dh130.

For those with more extravagant tastes, there is the Ultimate White Chocolate Gold made with gold leaf and Sevruga caviar for Dh250.

The store is also proud of its rose-petal jelly, which, as with all its preserves, is made by hand in small quantities in a traditional manner in copper kettles. The roses are picked from a dedicated rose garden in Oxfordshire and the petals are picked at night, when they provide the best fragrance.

This attention to detail is what Mr Venters believes will attract people to the shop.

“The items we sell are made in very small amounts and are of the highest quality,” he said.

“I think once people experience that they will enjoy it and it will become a popular destination.”

Fortnum and Mason opens to the public on Friday.

nhanif@thenational.ae