Marks & Spencer blames Brexit as it shuts 11 French stores

·2-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/06/22: Marks & Spencer logo is seen at one of their stores on Oxford Street in London. (Photo by Belinda Jiao/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The business had been affected by hold-ups caused by red tape at the UK-French border. Photo: Belinda Jiao/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) has blamed Brexit for the closure of 11 of its French stores, citing problems with supplying them with fresh and chilled foods.

The supermarket chain confirmed on Thursday that all 11 franchise stores, which it operated with partner SFH, would shut by the end of this year. Most of these are located on high streets in Paris.

Following reports over the weekend, it said supply chain problems since Britain left the European Union had made it "near impossible" to maintain standards of food supply. 

The business has been affected by hold-ups, caused by red tape at the UK-French border, meaning it has been impractical to get products to the shops.

Nine other M&S stores, at airports, railway and metro stations, operated with another partner, Lagardere Travel Retail, will still continue to be open.

Read more: UK delays full post-Brexit border checks from EU

"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.”

Friston said that there was “no workable alternative for the high street stores”, but that its French online operation, which sells mainly clothing and home products, will not be affected by the move.

The news comes after, M&S chairman Archie Norman complained that “byzantine” regulations meant only two-thirds of sandwiches were getting to stores. As most of them only have a shelf life of 48 hours, even short delays can make them unsaleable.

In April, M&S had already reconfigured part of its business in the wake of Brexit, announcing that it was removing the sale of all fresh and chilled products in its Czech food stores.

Watch: M&S blames Brexit as it axes 11 French high street stores

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