Shareholders of upmarket department store Fortnum & Mason are expected to give a reluctant go-ahead to takeover by Wittington Investments at the firm's extraordinary meeting today [Monday].

Wittington Investments, which is owned by the high-profile Weston family of Canada, already controls nearly 90% of Fortnum's stock and has offered a buy out deal of £6 (US$8.5) a share, which values the company at £57.4m.

Founded in 1707, Fortnum has been a public company for 62 years. The history of its share value has proved less illustrious than that of its brand however, as shares peaked five years ago at £9 and have since fallen below £4 in May 2000. Wittington chairman, Guy Weston, stressed last month: "Fortnum & Mason is not realising any material benefit from its listing."

Furthermore, sales have been buffeted in recent months as the September terrorist attacks rocked the tourist market and led to a distinct drop in footfall.