Marks & Spencer to ‘scale back French operations’

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is set to scale back its French operations, according to sources reported by The Mail on Sunday.

The High Street retailer is reportedly expected to close stores and could stop selling food and sandwiches entirely.

The announcement could be made within weeks according to the sources.

The news comes after M&S chairman Archie Norman called the current enforcement of Brexit export restrictions as "pointless and byzantine" in July 2021, due to their impact on Northern Ireland.

M&S is currently in negotiations with its French franchise partners regarding solutions to these supply chain issues according to the sources.

The news comes amidst the continuing HGV shortage; the government announced HGV driving test requirements will be lowered as part of an attempt to tackle the shortage of lorry drivers ahead of Christmas last Friday.

M&S has 20 stores in France in collaboration with franchise partners SFH and Lagardere, mostly concentrated in the Paris region, after launching in the country in 2021.

Earlier this year, fresh and chilled foods were removed from the shelves of its Czech stores and replaced with ranges that have a longer shelf life.

The High Street retailer has not issued a comment on the reports of store closures.

The pandemic presented challenges for M&S; the retailer reported a full-year loss of £201.2 million in the 52 weeks to 27 March, while its revenue declined from £10.1 billion in 2019 to £8.9 billion last year.

M&S is also making its own moves to tackle the root causes of the supply chain issues; last month Marks and Spencer (M&S) said that it is offering new HGV drivers a sign-on bonus of £2,000.

“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,” said an M&S spokesperson. “We operate a franchise business in France and are undertaking a review of the model with our two partners.”

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