Fortnum & Mason appoints new chief commercial officer

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Fortnum & Mason, the UK’s globally renowned provider of exceptional food and unforgettable experiences, announces the appointment of Rupert Thomas as chief commercial officer. Thomas will join the business in the newly created position in early April 2021to lead buying, merchandising and the international teams.

An accomplished executive with extensive strategic experience across retail, food and drink, Thomas joins Fortnum’s after 20 years at Waitrose – the last 10 of which he spent as a member of the Board. Since 2017, Rupert has been Director of Food and Grocery and responsible for all elements of Waitrose’s commercial and customer proposition. Prior to that he was marketing director – a role he was promoted to in 2010, having first joined Waitrose from Sainsbury’s in 2003.

During his time at Waitrose, Thomas led the launch of Essential Waitrose, Duchy Originals from Waitrose, Heston from Waitrose and the Waitrose Cookery School. Rupert also developed ambassadorial relationships with cook, author and television presenter Delia Smith, gardener and broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh and television presenter Philip Schofield.

Thomas joins the executive team following the appointment of Tom Athron as chief executive in December 2020. 

Earlier this year, Lucy Williams expressed her desire to leave the business after four years as commercial director. During her tenure Williams overhauled Fortnum’s product ambition, including the development of its rapidly growing fresh offering and its iconic hamper range, as well as playing a key role in the opening of Fortnum’s stores and restaurants at The Royal Exchange in the City and at K11 Musea in Hong Kong.  Lucy will leave Fortnum’s in April, allowing for a short handover with Rupert.

Athron commented:  “My priority is to build on the great work that Lucy has done in recent years and to set our business up for the next major leg in its extraordinary growth trajectory. To do this, we need to create customer propositions that sing across all our channels – and bring our teams together to fuel innovation and new ways of working.  Rupert is a wonderful fit with this ambition; a highly experienced and inspirational business leader, he has a great track record of driving growth that is underpinned by a passion for premium brands, bold innovation, and an ability to create unique customer experiences.” 

Thomas commented: “I’m hugely excited to be joining the Fortnum & Mason family. An iconic British brand, it continues to distinguish itself around the globe with outstanding quality products and exceptional levels of service. It is going to be an important year for the retail and hospitality sectors, and I’m relishing the opportunity of working with the Fortnum’s team to help drive the next phase of growth and innovation.”