Marks and Spencer (M&S) has announced the closure of all 11 franchise stores with partner SFH in France over the coming months, which it has attributed to the impact of Brexit on its supply of fresh and chilled food.
However, M&S added that the nine franchise stores with partner Lagardere Travel Retail continue to trade and both parties continue to work closely on a sustainable future business model.
As outlined at itd full year results in May this year, the retailer said the “lengthy and complex” export processes now in place following the UK’s exit from the European Union are “significantly constraining” its supply of fresh and chilled product from the UK into Europe which has continued to impact product availability for customers and the performance of its business in France.
As a result, M&S said it has reviewed how it trades with its EU businesses and partners, and as a result, has decided to end its partnership with SFH.
Located predominantly across the high streets of Paris, the stores are expected to close by the end of 2021.
It added that discussions between M&S and Lagardere Travel Retail on a sustainable future business model “continue to make good progress” and the 9 stores run by Lagardere in travel hubs such as airports, railway and metro stations will continue to trade as normal.
The announcement is the latest change to the structure of M&S’ European businesses following the UK’s exit from the European Union.
In April earlier this year, it announced the reconfiguration of its food business in Czech Republic, removing the sale of all fresh and chilled products from stores, and instead doubling its ranges of frozen and ambient products.
M&S revealed that since the changes took place in April, business performance continues to be “ahead of expectations and availability of products has remained consistent”.
Paul Friston, MD of International, said: “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’ flagship website in France, which is run by M&S and sells mostly clothing & home products, is also not impacted by the announcement.