The 17 Marks & Spencer Food Hall stores in Paris have been running low of groceries since early January, with customers posting photographs for empty shelves for four weeks now.
When the shortages started, Marks & Spencer said it was working to solve the problem and hoped to have all their lines back on the shelves shortly. But four weeks in, the situation remained unchanged.
Start of the 4th week after Brexit and the 17 M&S food shops in Paris have still received no shipments from the UK. Global Britain. pic.twitter.com/XmDLMEm2FR
— John Lichfield (@john_lichfield) January 25, 2021
The much-loved UK store has several dozen Food Halls spread across the French capital and its suburbs, beloved of British residents of the city for supplying homely delicacies like Breakfast tea, crumpets, sandwiches and ready meals.
Disappointed shoppers paying visit to the shops in January have wondered whether Brexit will be the end of the French Marks & Spencer branches. M&S stores in Ireland have also reported problems.
— alison hird (@alisonsarahird) January 19, 2021
But Riester, the Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, said he was “not so pessimistic” about the grocery retailer's future in France.
Speaking at a press conference organised by the Anglo American Press Association (AAPA) on Tuesday Morning, Riester told The Local that the problems Marks & Spencer was experiencing highlighted the difficulties companies were facing when adapting to the post-Brexit world.
“Obviously this is just the beginning (of Brexit). We are working on improving the process for foodstuff to be imported more easily,” Riester said, adding: “Foodstuff is quite difficult to deal with because it’s fresh.”
The European Union has strict external health checks in place on food imports to which the UK is now subject, rules that have radically changed the process of sending food across the border.
— Danny Kemp (@dannyctkemp) January 11, 2021
But Riester said the French government was determined to facilitate for companies to continue trade between France and the UK.
“I will add that the Covid crisis doesn’t simplify the life of companies. Brexit plus Covid crisis is a difficult situation,” he said, but “we want trade to be as simple as possible. We want the UK to export to us and we want to export to the UK.”
Speaking about Brexit more generally, he added: “Brexit is not a windfall, but for companies that want to enter the single European market with no red tape, it’s useful to be settled in the EU.