Marks & Spencer (M&S), a prominent British multinational retailer headquartered in London, has reportedly announced that it could shut several of its French outlets as a result of the new Brexit border regulations, which have made it difficult to keep shelves stocked.
The high street retail firm has been loud about the major supply chain issues it has had since the UK exited the EU, with lengthy delays causing tones of goods to expire in transit and leaving gaps on shelves.
Back in summer, chairman of M&S, Archie Norman, complained about the “byzantine” regulations, which meant that only two-thirds of sandwiches made it to stores. Because most of them have a shelf life of only 48 hours, even minor delays might render them unsellable.
M&S had made an embarrassing withdrawal from the continent in 2001, closing or selling stores in a number of nations, including France. It would make a triumphant comeback to France a decade later.
Now, Steve Rowe, the company's CEO, is seeking to focus on strengthening its UK operations while delegating management of its international locations to its franchise partners.
According to reports, the decision casts doubt on the future of the 20 stores, mostly located in Paris. The scope of the closures is yet unknown, with the ultimate decision likely to be dependent on the commitment of its two French franchise partners.
Analysts speculated that M&S in France may use a formula similar to that used in its Czech stores, in which all fresh and chilled items were removed off the shelves and replaced with enlarged choices with a longer shelf lives.
M&S has not commented on the possibility of the outlet closures, but stated that in light of the new customs arrangements, the firm is making significant efforts to reorganize its European operations and has already made modifications to food exports into the Czech Republic.