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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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FOOD & DRINK

Moules-frites in danger: Spider crabs wreak havoc on French mussel population

Warming sea temperatures are bringing more spider crabs to France's coastline, which could spell disaster for the French mussel industry.

Moules-frites in danger: Spider crabs wreak havoc on French mussel population

You may not be able to see it from land, but underwater, an invasive species of spider crabs are ravaging the mussel population on the Western coast of France.

In Normandy and Brittany, mussel farmers are struggling to control the expanding spider crab population – which normally migrates onward, but has stayed put on France’s coasts.

Experts believe the crabs, who feast on mussels and all manner of shellfish, have not continued in their migration due to warming water temperatures, as a result of the climate crisis.

This has left French mussel farmers worried that if the crab population is not controlled, then mussel production could end in the region within a decade. 

Some mussel farmers, like David Dubosco, have lost a significant amount of mussels in just the last year. Dubosco told TF1 that in 2022 he lost at least 150 tonnes.

(You can listen to The Local France team discuss the future of moules-frites in our new podcast episode below. Just press play or download it here for later.)

Dubosco is not alone in his experience. According to reporting by TF1, production across the board will be lower this year 2022, which means that the number of mussels imported from other countries will likely increase, a decision that will not be popular with French consumers who prefer homegrown mussels to make the classic moules-frites.

The proliferation of the spider crabs has been an ongoing problem for the last six years, but due to warming waters, more and more have stayed in French waters.

The crabs do not have many predators besides humans – as they are edible, but the supply has begun to outweigh demand. Additionally, the crabs have grown so big that traditional cages used to trap them are no longer effective, according to Actu France.

On September 21st, over 80 mussel producers staged a demonstration in front of the Manche préfecture in Saint-Lô to demand further measures against this invasive species.

“We have seen the proliferation of spider crabs and our alerts have gone unheeded by the administrative authorities. The species comes to feed on our stocks,” said Vincent Godefroy, head of the “Group of mussel farmers on bouchot” (Groupement des mytiliculteurs sur bouchot) to Actu France. 

In response, the Manche prefecture met with six representatives from the group, eventually publishing a a statement saying it would allow “for the experimentation of new measures” to combat the crabs, which would include dragging them out to sea.

Additionally, government actors and mussel farmers will work together this autumn to conduct a study on the economic value of spider crabs with goals of building up a new industry. The assessment will be made in November.

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