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British chain Marks and Spencer may close Paris stores after Brexit supply chaos

The British retail chain Marks and Spencer is reported to be closing its Paris stores after Brexit-relayed supply problems lead to months of empty shelves.

British chain Marks and Spencer may close Paris stores after Brexit supply chaos
Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

Ever since the end of the Brexit transition period in January 2021, shoppers in Paris have been reporting empty shelves in Marks & Spencer’s popular Paris food stores.

Now the company says it is placing its European operation under review, with British newspapers reporting that the chain is likely to close its Paris stores.

The company has not commented on reports of closures, but said in a statement: “In light of the new customs arrangements, we are taking decisive steps to reconfigure our European operations and have already made changes to food exports into the Czech Republic.

“We operate a franchise business in France and are undertaking a review of the model with our two partners.”

Marks & Spencer closed its French clothing stores in 2001 but in 2010 returned to Paris with a number of smaller Food Hall stores selling British produce, which have proved popular both with British residents in France and with Parisians.

There are now 20 Marks & Spencer Food Hall stores in France; one in Lille and the rest in Paris and its suburbs.

The company faces a particular challenge in the post-Brexit world as its European stores are supplied from the UK – and one of its selling points for Brits abroad is that the sandwiches and ready meals are identical to those in the UK.

Dozens of customers posted photos on social media of empty shelves in Paris M&S stores in January and February, and although the situation seems to have improved slightly since then, the store is also selling an increasing number of French products.

Company chairman Archie Norman has repeatedly warned of problems caused by the UK’s decision to leave not only the EU but the single market and customs union as well, meaning that all foodstuffs imported from the UK face strict health regulations.

Back in August 2018 he told the Financial Times: “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.”

The news was greeted with dismay by Brits living in Paris, who rely on the store for little tastes of home.

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BREXIT

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Brexit hasn't just brought about changes in passport rules for humans, pets are also affected and now the French government has laid out the rules for pet passports for British second-home owners.

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Pre-Brexit, people travelling between France and the UK could obtain an EU Pet Passport for their car, dog or ferret which ensured a hassle-free transport experience.

But since the UK left the EU things have become more complicated – and a lot more expensive – for UK residents wanting to travel to France with pets.

You can find a full breakdown of the new rules HERE, but the main difference for people living in the UK is that that they now need an Animal Health Certificate for travel.

Unlike the Pet Passport, a new ACH is required for each trip and vets charge around £100 (€118) for the certificate. So for people making multiple trips a year, especially those who have more than one pet, the charges can quickly mount up.

UK nationals who live in France can still benefit from the EU Pet Passport, but until now the situation for second-home owners has been a little unclear.

However the French Agriculture ministry has now published updated information on its website.

The rules state: “The veterinarian can only issue a French passport to an animal holding a UK/EU passport issued before January 1st, 2021, after verifying that the animal’s identification number has been registered in the Fichier national d’identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD).”

I-CAD is the national database that all residents of France must register their pets in – find full details HERE.

The ministry’s advice continues: “If not registered, the veterinarian may proceed to register the animal in I-CAD, if the animal’s stay in France is longer than 3 consecutive months, in accordance with Article 22 of the AM of August 1st, 2012 on the identification of domestic carnivores.”

So if you are staying in France for longer than 90 days (which usually requires a visa for humans) your pet can be registered and get a Pet Passport, but those staying less than three months at a time will have to continue to use the AHC.

The confusion had arisen for second-home owners because previously some vets had been happy to issue the Passport using proof of a French address, such as utility bills. The Ministry’s ruling, however, makes it clear that this is not allowed.

So here’s a full breakdown of the rules;

Living in France

If you are living in France full time your pet is entitled to an EU Pet Passport regardless of your nationality (which means your pet has more travel rights than you do. Although they probably still rely on you to drive the car/book the ferry tickets).

Your cat, dog or ferret must be fully up to date with their vaccinations and must be registered in the national pet database I-CAD (full details here).

Once issued, the EU Pet Passport is valid for the length of the animal’s life, although you must be sure to keep up with their rabies vaccinations. Vets in France usually charge between €50-€100 for a consultation and completing the Passport paperwork.

Living in the UK

If you are living in the UK and travelling to France (or the rest of the EU) you will need an Animal Health Certificate for your cat, dog or ferret.

The vaccination requirements are the same as for the EU Pet Passport, but an ACH is valid for only 10 days after issue for entry to the EU (and then for four months for onward travel within the EU).

So if you’re making multiple trips in a year you will need a new certificate each time.

UK vets charge around £100 (€118) for a certificate, although prices vary between practices. Veterinary associations in the UK are also warning of delays in issuing certificates as many people begin travelling again after the pandemic (often with new pets bought during lockdown), so you will need to book in advance. 

Second-home owners

Although previously some French vets had been happy to issue certificates with only proof of an address in France, the French government has now clarified the rules on this, requiring that pets be registered within the French domestic registry in order to get an EU Pet Passport.

This can only be done if the pet is staying in France for more than three months. The three months must be consecutive, not over the course of a year.

UK pets’ owners will normally require a visa if they want to stay in France for more than three months at a time (unless they have dual nationality with an EU country) – find full details on the rules for people HERE.

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