Customers visiting Marks & Spencer for a taste of the UK have been met with empty shelves and a very limited range of products since the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1st. The application of the EU’s strict rules on food imports from third countries have made it particularly difficult to ship animal products.
Any product such as meat, dairy or eggs that derives from animals needs a veterinary certificate stating that it conforms to EU regulations, in addition to the extra customs documentation that all imports into the EU now require. That has meant an end to many customer favourites, including certain sandwiches, ready meals and sausages.
😪 Closing in two days! Marks & Spencers at Bonne Nouvelle. Shelves already almost completely empty. Thanks Brexit! @john_lichfield @kimwillsher1 @moutet @ACatInParis @cntrentF24 pic.twitter.com/ICzrfMJz9B
— Stuart Norval (@StuartNorval) September 28, 2021
For the British chain, the situation has become untenable, and on September 16th it announced that over half of its stores, which are all situated in Paris and its suburbs except for one branch in Lille, would close in the coming months.
“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,” Paul Friston, M&S international director, said
However, the company added that stores situated in train stations and airports, which are run with its partner Lagardere Travel Retail, would remain open.
Here is the full list of M&S locations in France, and what the future holds for them.
End of an era. Tomorrow the @marksandspencer store at Porte Maillot in #Paris closes its doors forever. (Other Paris stores to follow suit.) Farewell cheddar cheese, mango chutney & shortbread biscuits. Boris, Nigel & co to blame for this travesty. #Brexitwoes @john_lichfield 🛒 pic.twitter.com/E7gkY82J5d
— Annette Young (@AnnetteF24) September 29, 2021
Stores which have already closed
Four M&S shops closed their doors on September 30th, and have already disappeared from the Marks & Spencer website. These are:
- M&S Food Franklin Roosevelt (Paris, 75008)
- M&S Food Grand Rex (75002)
- M&S Food Palais des Congrès (75017)
- M&S Food Ledru Rollin (75011)
Other stores set to close
The other shops which are not located in transport hubs, and are run with French partner SFH, are due to close some time before the end of the year. Employees in certain of these locations have already been informed of when their stores will close, while others are awaiting confirmation. The full list:
- M&S Food Saint Lazare (Paris, 75008) – set to close at the end of October
- M&S Food Saint Germain (Paris, 75006) – set to close in December
- M&S Food Saint Michel (Paris, 75005) – date unknown
- M&S Food Avenue du Général Leclerc (Paris, 75014) ) – date unknown
- M&S Food Grévin (Paris, 75009) – Reportedly open until early November
- M&S Food Passy (Paris, 75016) – date unknown
- M&S Food So Ouest (Levallois-Perret, Hauts-de-Seine) – date unknown
Shops which will remain open
The nine stores located in travel hubs will remain open for the foreseeable future. These are:
- M&S Food Gare de Lille (Lille)
- M&S Food Châtelet Les Halles (Paris, 75001)
- M&S Food Gare de l’Est (Paris, 75010)
- M&S Food Gare Montparnasse (Paris, 75014)
- M&S Food Gare RER La Défense (Puteaux, Hauts-de-Seine)
- M&S Food Roissy Pôle T3
- M&S Food Roissy Charles de Gaulle T1
- M&S Food Roissy Charles de Gaulle T2E
- M&S Food Roissy Charles de Gaulle T2F
However, even those stores which will remain open such as the one in Gare de l’Est have had to contend with empty shelves, and many of the fresh products such as milk and sandwiches have been replaced with French produce.
Since 2017, Marks & Spencer has operated only Food Hall stores in France, with its sandwiches and ready meals proving particularly popular with French customers as well as Brits looking for a taste of home.
On September 16th, the company said it would close 11 of its stores “in the coming months”, and has since declined to provide any further information concerning dates.