BUSINESS

Marks & Spencer blames Brexit as it closes 11 French stores

September 16, 2021
Marks & Spencer store in Paris
Marks & Spencer store in Paris

LONDON -- The UK retail giant Marks & Spencer has said it is closing 11 of its French stores because of problems supplying them with fresh and chilled foods since Brexit, BBC reported.

It said all 11 franchise stores it operated with partner SFH in France would shut by the end of this year.

M&S said supply chain problems since Brexit had made it "near impossible" to maintain standards of food supply.

Nine M&S stores run at French travel hubs will continue to operate.

"M&S has a long history of serving customers in France and this is not a decision we or our partner SFH have taken lightly," said Paul Friston, M&S managing director of international.

"However, as things stand today, the supply chain complexities in place following the UK's exit from the European Union now make it near impossible for us to serve fresh and chilled products to customers to the high standards they expect, resulting in an ongoing impact to the performance of our business.

"With no workable alternative for the High Street stores, we have agreed with SFH to close all 11 franchised stores."

Its French online operation, which sells mainly clothing and home products, will not be affected by the closures.

One of the main problems Marks & Spencer was facing in France was post-Brexit bureaucracy, a spokesman said.

Its partner, SFH, mainly operated shops on Paris High Streets, selling fresh food products such as sandwiches, he said.

Due to hold-ups caused by red tape at the UK/French border, it was impractical to get the products to the shops.

The retailer's other French partner, Lagardere Travel Retail, runs M&S stores in French airports, railway and Metro stations.

Those stores are unaffected by this decision, in part due to their location.

M&S said its discussions with Lagardere on a sustainable future business model continued to make good progress.

"Today's announcement is the latest change to the structure of our European businesses following the UK's exit from the European Union," the retailer said. -- Agencies


September 16, 2021
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