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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

Rosé, spritz and pressé: 5 things to drink in France this summer

Summer in France means lots of things - trips to the beach, empty cities, works on the Paris Metro - but it also ushers in rosé and spritz season. Here's some of the best options to drink in France this summer.

Rosé, spritz and pressé: 5 things to drink in France this summer

Rosé

Wine is a pretty popular product all year round, but as soon as the sunny days arrive, the shelves of your local cave or supermarket will be filled with rosé.

Rosé wines sometimes get a bad reputation abroad, but there are plenty of excellent vins rosé in France, especially the ones from the rosé heartland of Provence, the majority of which are dry, not sweet.

It’s often served as a pre-dinner drink (an apéro) but it also pairs well with food so you’ll see it on restaurant wine lists. 

Rosé wine is not a mix of red wine and white wine, instead it’s made from red wine grapes but using a different technique in which the skin of the grapes is removed earlier, meaning that the skins do not impart their red colour to the wine. Rosé is in fact the oldest wine type in France – the ancient Romans produced wine using the rosé technique in Provence. 

Spritzes

If you’re not a rosé fan, why not try a spritz as the temperature rises? Spritz refers to any drink that is a combination of wine (usually sparkling wine), soda water and an apéritif drink. They’re served long with lots of ice so make a refreshing and not too strong drinks option in the summer.   

The classic spritz is the Apérol spritz – made with Apérol, sparkling wine and soda water, usually garnished with a slice of orange. Although ubiquitous in France, Apérol is actually Italian (its name comes from aperitivo, the Italian word for pre-dinner drinks).

There are lots of other options though – Campari Spritz, with the bitter-but-delicious Italian Campari.

Lillet spritz – the French aromatised wine Lillet is often served as a spritz, garnished with mint or cucumber. 

Saint-Germain spritz – the elderflower liqueur Saint-Germain is often found served as a spritz in the summer, garnished with fruit.  

Beer

French beer culture is rapidly changing and there are now more and more options available if you want to drink beer in France.

The traditional demi (half litre) of French of Belgian beers are still widely available, but craft beers are also really taking off, especially in northern France.

A combination of imports from the UK and US, plus an ever-increasing number of small craft breweries in France mean there are lots of craft ales on offer now, from IPA to stout. It’s also getting more common to serve beer as une pinte (a pint).

READ ALSO How France became a nation of beer lovers

Non-alcoholic beers are also increasingly common in France and most of the big-name brands such as Kronenbourg, Grimbergen and Pelforth now have a zero-alcohol option. Ask for une bière sans alcool, or if you want want a summer shandy (beer mixed with lemonade) ask for a panaché.

Citron pressé

If you’re looking for something non-alcoholic, the classic pressé is a good option.

The most common option is a citron (lemon) pressé, but many cafés have other fruit options. Keep in mind this isn’t exactly a lemonade – if you’re looking for this you can ask for a citronade

The classic pressé is served as a neat squeezed juice, served with a jug of water and (in the case of the lemon) a couple of sachets of sugar, so that you can mix the juice to your own taste.

But aware that soft drinks are not necessarily cheaper than alcoholic ones in France, and a citron pressé will often be more expensive than buying a beer or a glass of wine.

Water

Of course staying hydrated is vital as the temperature rises, and there’s no better option for your health than water.

In cafés and restaurants if you simply ask for ‘water’ you’re likely to be brought mineral water and this can be more expensive than beer or wine, especially in tourist areas.

If you just want tap water ask for une carafe d’eau or un pichet d’eau, which is free.

Tap water in France is entirely safe to drink and the city of Paris is currently running a campaign called Je choisi l’eau de Paris (I choose Paris tap water) to encourage people to cut down on plastic waste by ditching bottled water and drinking tap water instead.

If you see a Je choisi l’eau de Paris sticker in the window of any business, it means you can go in and get your water bottle filled up for free.

READ ALSO Six things to know about tap water in France

Most French cities also have a network of drinking fountains where you can stay hydrated for free during the summer months. 

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