By  on January 27, 2009

LONDON — Fortnum & Mason, the 302-year-old specialty store famous for its luscious picnic hampers and luxury food offering, plans to lay off up to 10 percent of its workforce in a bid to slash costs.

The store said Tuesday it would shortly begin a consultation process with staff. A spokeswoman declined, however, to confirm a report in London's Evening Standard newspaper that up to 55 jobs would be cut. The statement said that "front line operational staff" in retail and hospitality would be largely unaffected.

The Piccadilly store, which also carries fashion, fragrance and accessories brands including Lulu Guinness, Clive Christian, Lalique and Acqua di Parma, underwent a 24 million pound, or $33 million, overhaul in 2007. It remains one of London's top tourist attractions. All figures have been calculated at current exchange.

It is the latest European luxury company to lay off its staff in the face of the global economic crisis. Last week Burberry and Cartier both announced layoffs.

For complete coverage, see Wednesday's WWD.

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