Marks & Spencer to close 11 branches due to Brexit supply disruption

The retailer said supply chain complexities following the UK’s exit from the European Union have made it “near impossible” for it to serve fresh and chilled products to customers

Retail giant Marks & Spencer has announced plans to close 11 stores in France due to fresh and chilled food supply issues following Brexit.

The UK chain said all 11 franchise stores it operated with partner SFH in France would shut “over the coming months”.

M&S said supply chain problems since Brexit had made it “near impossible” to maintain standards of food supply.

Nine M&S stores run at French travel hubs will continue to operate.

“M&S has a long history of serving customers in France and this is not a decision we or our partner SFH have taken lightly,” said Paul Friston, M&S managing director of international.

“However, 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.

“With no workable alternative for the High Street stores, we have agreed with SFH to close all 11 franchised stores.”

Boss Steve Rowe is also restructuring Marks & Spencer’s UK stores

The announcement comes after the chain warned of plans to permanently shut dozens of stores in the UK after revealing a £201million loss for the year in May.

The retail giant said at least 30 stores would shut and 70 would be restructured as it battles to bounce back from tough trading conditions in the past year.

M&S currently has over 250 “full line” sites selling clothing and home as well as food ranges, and is set to cut this number down to around 180.

Some stores will be transformed into “food only” and others will be moved to new locations – which, it is understood, could include former Debenhams branches.

“Our objective for the full line estate is to achieve a fully modernised core of 180 stores,” Wednesday’s trading statement said.

“M&S had 254 full line stores at year end. While practically all Clothing & Home departments in these stores contribute positive cash, a number are in long term decline, struggle to cover their allocated central costs as a percentage of sales and cannot justify future investment,” it added.

Under the plan, which will see M&S enter the “next phase” of its transformation, around 100 stores will be ‘rotated’.

This will mean either relocating to a food only store, another full line store or consolidating multiple stores into one.

“In around 30 locations which can no longer support a store we will close, recapturing trade in nearby stores or online,” the company said.

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