Renowned London food store Fortnum & Mason – known for delivering its hampers to the trenches of World War One’s Western Front – says it has stopped deliveries to the EU due to border complexities.
The change has been in place over Christmas and New Year despite the store, known as the Queen’s grocers, boasting 300 years of worldwide hamper deliveries.
The store says the move is temporary and it hopes to restart deliveries “as soon as possible” this year.
Hampers from Fortnum’s, in Piccadilly, which the firm says are ‘filled-to-bursting’ have been delivered around the world since 1707. Charles Dickens wrote in praise of the store’s ‘gourmandizing pleasures’ on Christmas Day in 1845, and later it was known for deliveries to British officers serving overseas.
The firm’s website tells how: “Fortnum’s sent a taste of home to thousands of men and women serving in France and beyond – including their favourite things, such as boiled sweets, tinned fruit cake and chocolates. We even sent out 500 plum puddings to one regiment for their Christmas dinner in 1915.”
In 1914 it set up a special ‘Officer’s Supply Department’ to provide food parcels to the Western Front as well as Gallipoli, Russia and North Africa; it even provided special panier-shaped hampers designed to straddle a camel, requested by Earl Haig.
The firm prides itself in particular on delivering goods around the world at Christmas time, stating that “for many of our customers… Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Fortnum & Mason”, which is a “huge privilege, and quite a responsibility”.
“Further regulatory changes around deliveries to the EU” make it difficult to deliver
However it told Connexion that border formalities had become too complex for it to send packages to France and other EU countries.
Its website says that “further regulatory changes around deliveries to the EU” have made it too difficult to deliver to France and other EU countries over the festive season this year, as well as some non-EU parts of Europe requiring delivery via the EU (though it was still able to deliver to Norway, Switzerland, Andorra and Monaco).
French residents have, therefore, had to do without the firm’s gourmet hamper selections, which range from a £75 ‘Taste of Fortnum’s’ to the £750 ‘Monarch hamper’.
It states that while it has not been delivering to the EU this Christmas, it “very much hopes to be in a position to resume deliveries at the earliest opportunity in 2022”.
A spokeswoman for the firm said the stoppage was linked to a variety of complexities with delivering to the EU at present.
Many British food suppliers have, since Brexit applied fully last year, reported issues with increased costs and border checks for delivering to the EU and requirements for expensive animal and plant health certificates for items containing meat and dairy products or most fresh fruit and vegetables or seeds.
The spokeswoman did not clarify whether these aspects impacted its deliveries before Christmas, however the firm’s website is showing a usual, fixed delivery price for the EU, of £19.50, compared to £15 for non-EU parts of the European continent.
It is currently making deliveries as usual to the rest of the world, apart from Georgia, Greenland, Iceland, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Moldova and Montenegro.