Royal grocer Fortnum & Mason hires Tom Athron as next boss

Royal grocer Fortnum & Mason has appointed a former MatchesFashion and John Lewis executive as its next boss.

The 313-year-old retailer has said Tom Athron will start as chief executive officer next month after long-standing boss Ewan Venters announced his departure plans.

Mr Venters will leave Fortnum’s at the turn of the year to become chief executive at art exhibition business Hauser & Wirth.

His replacement joins the retailer from MatchesFashion, the online luxury fashion retailer where he has served as chief operating officer since May 2018.

Prior to this, Mr Athron spent 12 years at the John Lewis Partnership in a variety of roles, including group development director for the group and chief finance officer at Waitrose.

“I am thrilled to be joining such a special business as Fortnum & Mason, which I have long admired for its innovation, extraordinary food and drink and its exceptional people,” Mr Athron said.

“A traditional British business with a truly global outlook, a strong purpose and increasingly desired around the world.

“I am greatly looking forward to working with the Fortnum’s team on realising its further potential and contributing to the next exciting phase in its long and illustrious history.”

The appointment comes at a challenging period for the retailer, as England’s second coronavirus lockdown threatens to significantly disrupt its sales ahead of the key Christmas trading period.

Kate Hobhouse, chairman of Fortnum’s, said: “The board and I are delighted that Tom has agreed to join Fortnum’s.

“A versatile and highly experienced business leader, Tom has extensive leadership experience in digital and physical retail across food, luxury and designer fashion – he is a great fit with the multichannel business that Fortnum’s has become.

“Ours is a business that celebrates the very best, be it food, drink, joy-giving gifts or indeed experiences and I know that Tom will bring great energy and expertise to Fortnum & Mason.”