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Marks & Spencer may close French stores due to Brexit-related supply chain issues

Lauretta Roberts
13 September 2021

Marks & Spencer may close some of its 20 stores in France as supply chain issues, related to Brexit, have hampered its ability to deliver food to stores in a timely manner.

The British retail chain has 20 stores in France and has been vocal about the issues it has faced with bureaucracy following Britain's exit from the EU.

In July chairman Archie Norman said Brexit-related issues were threatening the retailer's business in the island of Ireland.

“It is not the overall purposes of the customs union that are the problem. It is the pointless and byzantine way in which the regime is enforced that is so business destructive,” Norman said at the time.

If it does exit France, it will be the second time it has done so. In 2001 it closed its full-line stores in France and returned, via franchise arrangements, a decade later. Most of its stores are in the Paris region and sell food only. Clothing and home is sold in the country via its website.

Analysts have suggested that M&S and its franchise partners may operate a similar model to that in place in the Czech Republic whereby fresh and chilled food is sidelined in favour of products with a longer life.

The news was first reported by the Mail on Sunday and M&S issued a statement saying: "In light of the new customs arrangements, we are taking decisive steps to reconfigure our European operations and have already made changes to food exports into the Czech Republic. We operate a franchise business in France and are undertaking a review of the model with our two partners.”

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