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M&S blames Brexit for French store closures

Marks & Spencer has blamed Brexit for its decision to close 11 high street food stores in France and leave many Parisians without their favourite sandwiches.
The FTSE 250 retailer said supply chain problems caused by Brexit had made it almost impossible to provide food to the stores at an acceptable standard. M&S has agreed with its franchise partner SFH to shut all their stores, which Parisians visit for sandwiches and upmarket treats, by the end of 2021.

M&S’s M&S’s French online operation, which concentrates on clothing and homeware, will not be affected and nine stores at travel hubs will stay open. M&S re-entered the French market 10 years ago using a franchised model that was popular with UK expats and locals.

“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,” Paul Friston, M&S’s managing director of international, told the BBC.

Empty shelves have been reported in M&S’s French stores after post-Brexit trading arrangements imposed complex paperwork. The company replaced fresh and chilled foods at its 18 stores in the Czech Republic with frozen items because of delivery holdups.

M&S’s Chairman Archie Norman predicted problems two years ago as the UK headed towards Brexit. He said: “If our lorries are sitting in a lorry park near Dover for half a day that would be the demise of the great M&S sandwich in Paris.”

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