LONDON (AP) – UK retailer Marks & Spencer said on Thursday it would close 11 of its stores in France, mostly in Paris, due to supply issues with fresh and chilled food linked to Britain’s departure from the European Union.
The group blamed the Brexit disruption on exports to Europe for its decision to close all franchise stores with its partner SFH in France.
“M&S has a long history of serving its clients in France and this is not a decision that we or our partner SFH have taken lightly,” said Paul Friston, Managing Director of M&S International.
“However, as it stands now, the complexities of the supply chain in place after the UK’s exit from the European Union now prevent us from serving fresh and chilled products to customers at the high standards that “They wait, which has a continuous impact on the performance of our business,” he added.
The stores are expected to close by the end of the year.
M&S said it remains in talks with its partner Lagardere Travel Retail over its nine remaining French stores based at airports and train stations, which it says continue to operate normally.
Its website in France, which mainly sells clothing and home products, is not affected, the group added.
Previously, M&S restructured its Czech operations in April following Brexit, removing all fresh and chilled products from stores and doubling the frozen and room-keeping product lines.
Britain officially left the EU in January 2020, but remained in its economic orbit until early this year, when a new, much looser free trade deal came into force. Under the new trade agreements, there are no tariffs or quotas on exports to the EU.
However, there is a set of regulatory requirements, especially with regard to food standards, which make it more difficult, if not impossible, to export certain products, such as UK staples like sausages, pork pies. and sandwiches.
Trade between Britain and the EU has been further complicated by coronavirus restrictions as well as a driver shortage which is partly due to the pandemic but also Brexit as many drivers have chosen to leave the United Kingdom when freedom of movement ended at the start of the year.