M&S shuts French stores over 'supply chain complexities'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
16 September 2021

Marks and Spencer has announced the closure of 11 franchise stores in France due to “lengthy and complex export processes”.

M&S said the border processes in place since Brexit were “significantly constraining the supply of fresh and chilled product from the UK into Europe and continuing to impact product availability for customers”.

The 11 stores, run in partnership with SFH and located predominantly across high streets in Paris, are expected to close by the end of the year.

A further nine franchise stores at airports and railway and metro stations, run with Lagardere Travel Retail, will continue to trade as both parties “work closely on a sustainable future business model”.

M&S said in April it removed fresh and chilled products from stores in the Czech Republic, doubling ranges of frozen and ambient products instead, which “removed the ongoing supply risks to our business”.

Paul Friston, managing director of international at M&S, said: “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.

“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.”

In July Norman wrote to Brexit minister David Frost to warn current EU customs arrangements with Northern Ireland were “totally unsuited”.

In January M&S warned of the “Percy Pig problem”, in which rules of origin meant it and other retailers were facing tariffs on goods shipped to stores in the EU, particularly Ireland, France and the Czech Republic.

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