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Marks & Spencer closes a Paris store after weeks of Brexit-related food shortages

British grocery chain Marks & Spencer has closed one of its Paris stores after weeks of Brexit-related food shortages, although the company says the closure is not related to the empty shelves.

Marks & Spencer closes a Paris store after weeks of Brexit-related food shortages
Empty shelves in a Paris Marks and Spencer store. Photo: AFP

Every since the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1st, customers at the 20 Marks & Spencer food stores in Paris and its suburbs have been sharing photos of empty shelves as deliveries fail to arrive from the UK.

The application of the EU's strict rules on food imports from third countries appears to have caught the British grocery chain on the hop, and for weeks Paris M&S stores have seen no fresh food deliveries, leading to empty shelves.

Now one of the group's stores, the Chaussée d'Antin branch in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, has closed its doors for good, although a spokesman for the company said this was unrelated to the delivery problems.

 

 

 

Popular with British residents and locals alike, M&S has been something of a success story with 21 of its Food Hall stores in France, one in Lille and the rest in Paris and its suburbs.

 

Asked previously about the empty shelves, an M&S spokesman said: “As we are transitioning to the new processes, it is taking a little longer for some of our products to reach stores.

“But we are working with our partners, suppliers and relevant government agencies and local authorities to quickly improve this.”

A company spokesman added on February 10th that it was not possible to put a timeframe on this.

M&S chairman Archie Norman had warned as far back as August 2018 of this particular Brexit risk.

“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,” he told The Financial Times.

The sandwiches and other meals for the retailer's French food stores are made in a factory in central England.

Norman suggested that setting up production in France was not a viable proposition.

Member comments

  1. M&S have only had 5 years to prepare for this. The factory in central England, where the food is prepared met EU standards up to 31st December 2020 but from the 1st January 2021 the paperwork was not in place to prove compliance. They have no one to blame but themselves for ‘being caught on the hop’ as your article states. Ironically, all products bought in by M&S have to meet stringent compliances standards but maybe they thought that they themselves would be exempt! Think again. Get your ducks in a row and sandwiches back on the shelves. What a ridiculous situation that could have been completely avoided with some organisation and aforethought.

  2. I totally agree that this sounds like M & S were totally unprepared after years of being able to work on the logistics. Just what has their managment been doing? And frankly from a business point of view establishing a factory in France would seem to solve a lot of problems and also give them another larger entry into the EU market from which to expand. But it seems good business practices are not important to M & S.

  3. The details of the EU-UK deal weren’t finalised until the last minute – so they didn’t know what exactly is going to happen. They could have assumed the worst and spent more to prepare – but which business will choose to do it voluntarily, especially during pandemic?

  4. Shame, but I guess M&S can get by without the income from the French food stores if there’s too much bother importing etc.

  5. I hope Marks and Spencer have a decent redundancy package for their poor employees than they have for their deluded long – suffering customers who are addicted to good old British stodge.

    1. ‘Stodge’ is quicker than typing “Overpriced processed sh!te”. But I’ve got time on my hands these days….

      1. Pity you have time on your hands.
        Whatever your name is?
        Solid or fionasteph6??? BUGGY comment software???

        I don’t care … I love M&S food … especially their salads.

        But I’m disappointed with them for not preparing for Brexit in advance.

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FOOD & DRINK

France to see ‘exceptional’ year for Champagne despite record heat

Champagnes from 2022 are expected to be "exceptional" despite record heat and drought in France over the summer, according to producers of the prestigious sparkling wine.

France to see 'exceptional' year for Champagne despite record heat

Grape harvesting took place in August — earlier than usual.

Both the quality and quantity this year are comparable to vintage years 2002 and 1982, the head of the champagne producers’ union SGV told a press conference on Thursday.

The Champagne region suffered from water shortages like the rest of France but rain “arrived at the right moment during the cycle”, Laurent Panigai told reporters.

This summer was France’s second hottest on record, with average temperatures 2.3C above the norm.

This, coupled with water shortages, caused major problems for livestock farmers.

But the abundant sunshine looks set to deliver a windfall for many wine makers.

Producers in the Bourgogne region are also suggesting this year’s harvest could be comparable in quality to 1959, one of the best years of the last century.

READ MORE: ‘The price of glory’ – Meet the Champagne industry lawyers charged with protecting the brand name

Champagne producers were authorised to pick up to 12,000 kilogrammes of grapes per hectare, the highest level for 15 years.

This is set to enable them to replenish their stocks after a disappointing year in 2021.

The hot weather helped reduce diseases such as mildew. The fungal growth wreaked havoc on the 2021 French wine crop, which was also hit by late frosts.

“Many of the greatest years come at the same time as large (production) volumes,” Panigai said.

Drinkers can expect to sample 2022’s champagne vintage in 2024, as most bottles are kept in cellars for between 15 months and three years.

The champagne industry was hit badly by the Covid-19 pandemic, which shut restaurants across the world and led to most social events being cancelled.

But it rebounded in 2021, posting record sales of €5.5 billion.

France is the world’s second largest wine producer, after Italy.

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