M&S confirmed this week plans to shut down 11 of its 26 flagship stores across France amid growing post-Brexit supply chain issues. Parisians have lamented the closure of the main St Germaine shop in the heart of the French capital as a “pity” for consumers of British goods. One woman told France 24: “It’s a pity because it’s a shop that had very good products.”
Another woman added: “I had already noticed for some months the shelves were short on stock. And a certain number of goods had unfortunately completely disappeared.”
Author Dana Thomas said M&S’ decision to shut down local shops is a “very bad sign” for the future of Paris as the capital struggles with extensive closures in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.
Ms Thomas said: “The gourmet grocery stores of Paris but not only were as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboards for the first six months of this year.
“And then they worked it out, you could get some Fortnum&Mason tea and some Digestives again. But the Marks&Spencer pullout is a big sign.”
She continued: “And it’s not just in the food business, it’s also in the fashion business – 42 percent of Britain’s luxury goods are exported to the EU.
“Designers are caught paying in fees, deliveries are late and that cost a lot of money in the luxury fashion business so much so that Paul Smith is talking about moving his production, what little is in the UK, to Europe.
“So, it’s a bad sign for Britain’s economy but it’s also a really bad sign for Paris, which already has a blight of empty stores.
“After Covid, every third store is closed or shut. Madame Le Maire, she wants to run for president, she somehow couldn’t work this out so Marks&Spencer doesn’t close that huge store close to the Apple Store in the heart St Germaine.”
“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.”
The 11 stores that will close by the end of this year are located predominantly across the high streets of Paris, while the nine run by Lagardere are located in travel hubs such as airports, railway, and metro stations.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the Brexit process, saying: ” “We believe that the approach we have taken is the correct one.
“It is something that the public voted for and it is already bringing benefits to the public.”