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.
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— Anne Stark Ditmeyer (@pretavoyager) February 8, 2021
— Marc Epstein (@MarcEpstein_) January 8, 2021
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.
❌ Dans l'enseigne @marksandspencer du Boulevard Montmartre, au cœur de Paris, les clients font grise mine devant les rayons vides de plats préparés. Certains s'interrogent même sur l'avenir de la chaîne. https://t.co/TypQpllZmI
— Le Figaro (@Le_Figaro) January 5, 2021
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.