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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French MPs reject bid to ease visa rules for British second-home owners

France's parliament has thrown out a proposal by Senators to relax visa rules for British second-home owners, which had been added as an amendment to the country's new Immigration Bill.

French MPs reject bid to ease visa rules for British second-home owners

France’s controversial Immigration Bill is currently at the committee stage in the Assemblée nationale and already MPs have thrown out several of the headline-grabbing amendments that their colleagues in the Senate added last month.

Among them is a bid to relax visa rules for Brits who own property in France.

The Senate had considered three amendments relating to second-home owners, including one that proposed creating a special visa for all second-home owners (not just Brits).

But in the end it adopted a vaguely-worded motion to exempt British second-home owners from the requirement to either have a visa or abide by the 90-day rule.

In essence, it would have restored pre-Brexit travel conditions to Brits who own property in France, although the amendment added that “The conditions for the application of this article shall be specified by decree in the Conseil d’Etat”.

However, MPs on the Commission des lois (law committee) of the Assemblée nationale have now junked the amendment, meaning that the current rules will remain in place for British second-home owners in France.

The application to cancel the amendment stated that: “The automatic granting of a long-stay visa based solely on property ownership could be perceived as favouring a category of people because of their financial situation, creating inequality in relation to other foreign nationals who have to follow a more rigorous procedure to obtain such a visa.”

A second amendment on the same topic added: “Nothing justifies this exemption, British citizens made a sovereign choice to leave the European Union and renounce the advantages that come with it. The simple fact of owning a second property is not sufficient grounds to justify exemption from visa requirements.”

It added that the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement already contains measures that allow British nationals to get visas or residency cards relevant to their status.

Since Brexit, British visitors have had to follow the same rules as other non-EU nationals like Americans and Canadians – either limiting their visits to 90 days in every 180 or getting a short-stay visa. 

In France, it is the Assemblée nationale that has the final say on laws, so this signifies the end of the road for this particular attempt to ease travel conditions for British second-home owners (although others may follow).

The Immigration bill is the flagship piece of legislation for this parliamentary term, and has already stoked plenty of controversy.

As it passed through the Senate, many senators took the opportunity to add attention-grabbing amendments such as the withdrawal of medical cover for undocumented workers.

The Assemblée’s law committee has already cancelled several of these and looks likely to cancel more as hearings continue.

The full debate on the bill before parliament is scheduled to begin on December 11th. 

Calendar: What happens next with France’s immigration bill?

Other potentially significant parts of the bill, such as the introduction of language tests for certain types of residency card, remain in place.

READ ALSO What would change for foreigners in France under the new Immigration bill?