Marks & Spencer (M&S) is to close 11 franchise stores that it currently runs in partnership with SFH in France, as a result of the changes that came about with the post-Brexit EU and UK trade deal.
The M&S Food shops are mostly sited on Paris high streets and are expected to close by the end of this year.
Nine shops run with another partner, Lagardere Travel Retail, in sites including airports, railway and metro stations, will continue to operate while the two work on finding a “sustainable business model”. M&S’ French website, which mostly sells clothing and homewares, will also continue to operate.
Paul Friston, managing director of international at M&S, says: “M&S has a long history of serving customers in France and this is not a decision we or our partner SFH have taken lightly. However, as things stand today, the supply chain complexities in place following the UK’s exit from the European Union, now make it near impossible for us to serve fresh and chilled products to customers to the high standards they expect, resulting in an ongoing impact to the performance of our business. With no workable alternative for the high street stores, we have agreed with SFH to close all 11 franchised stores.”
M&S said earlier this week that it was reviewing its store franchise business in the light of the changes that Brexit has brought.
The retailer, ranked Elite in RXUK Top500 research, has been seeing the effect of Brexit on its business since the shape of the post-Brexit trade deal was struck on Christmas Eve 2020. The retailer said in January 2021 that while the the deal would not add tariffs to goods it sells in its UK stores, it would add both tariffs and bureaucracy to the goods it exports to the EU. This, it said at the time, would “significantly impact our businesses in Ireland, the Czech Republic and our franchise business in France, which we are actively working to mitigate”.
In March it announced that it had expanded its international online business to more than 100 markets through 46 flagship websites selling homewares and clothing – as it responded to the shift online that has taken place around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic.