Fortnum & Mason boss Aspinall quits

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The Independent Online

The boss of Fortnum & Mason has quit after seven years in the job "to pursue other challenges".

Beverley Aspinall, pictured, stands down as chief executive of the 305-year-old store at the end of May.

The surprise move comes a year after the Piccadilly institution was occupied by UK Uncut protesters against corporate tax avoidance.

The 52-year-old, who started her career at John Lewis and is one of London's best-known female retailers, said: "I feel the time is right to move to new challenges."

Retail experts said it was likely she had been lined up for a bigger job in the industry.

Ms Aspinall was recruited in 2005 from Peter Jones, where she managed a £100m overhaul, to turn around a store that was seen to have lost its way and had fallen into the red.

She spent £24m on a major makeover that included the creation of a new central atrium in time for its tercentenary celebrations in 2007.

In 2005, the year she took over, Fortnum's made a pre-tax loss of £1.2m on sales of £39m. By last year this had been turned round to a pre-tax profit of £1.1m on £55m turnover.