Food stores

British M&S accuses Brexit of shutting down French food stores

  • M&S to close 11 food stores managed by SFH
  • Will keep nine stores managed with Lagardère
  • M&S says new rules make it “almost impossible”

LONDON, Sept. 16 (Reuters) – British retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) has announced it will close the 11 French franchised food stores it runs with its partner SFH, as trade rules in place since Britain’s exit from the European Union reduced product availability.

M&S said Thursday that its nine remaining French franchise stores, managed with Lagardère Travel Retail (LAGA.PA), will continue to trade and that the pair are working on a future sustainable business model.

President Archie Norman has complained for months that M&S ​​has struggled to bring goods into Ireland and France since Britain left the EU’s single market earlier this year, due to huge amount of extra paperwork. Read more

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“M&S has a long history of serving clients in France and this is not a decision that we or our partner SFH have taken lightly,” said Paul Friston, International Director of M&S.

“As it stands, the complexities of the supply chain in place following the UK’s exit from the European Union now prevent us from serving fresh and chilled products to customers at the high standards they expect, which has an ongoing impact on the performance of our business, ”he added.

The 11 stores that will close by the end of this year are mainly located in the shopping streets of Paris, while the nine managed by Lagardère are located in travel hubs such as airports, train stations and metro stations.

A woman walks past a Marks & Spencer store on Oxford Street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain July 20, 2020. REUTERS / Henry Nicholls

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the Brexit process.

“We believe that the approach we have taken is the right one. This is something the public has voted for and it is already bringing benefits to the public,” the spokesperson said.

The government has also provided important funding, advice and support throughout the Brexit period so that businesses can prepare and understand the changes, they added.

In April, M&S reconfigured its food business in the Czech Republic to eliminate supply chain risks. It has withdrawn all fresh and refrigerated products from its stores and has doubled its ranges of frozen and ambient products.

Last month, M&S improved its earnings outlook after an increase in demand for food in its home market and an increase in online clothing sales indicating that its latest turnaround plan was starting to pay off. Read more

M&S shares were down 2% at 12:37 GMT, slashing their 2021 gains to 33.6%.

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Reporting by James Davey; Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan, edited by Kate Holton, Sarah Young and Alexander Smith

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