M&S blasts French red tape: Chairman Archie Norman hits out at ‘fandango of bureaucracy’ as deliveries are held up by border checks
‘Draconian’ customs checks by French officials has spurred Marks & Spencer to consider leaving the country altogether, the retailer’s chairman has said.
Archie Norman criticised a ‘fandango of bureaucracy’ at the EU border – and pointed the finger at officials in France for being particularly obstructive.
The customs woes have become so bad that M&S is sometimes seeing one third of its deliveries to the country – including sandwiches and ready meals – getting held up.
Hold ups: M&S chairman Archie Norman (pictured) criticised a ‘fandango of bureaucracy’ at the EU border – and pointed the finger at officials in France for being particularly obstructive
Most sandwiches have a shelf life of just 48 hours, so even short delays can make them unsaleable.
Norman said this has prompted the retailer to re-examine its entire presence in France, where it has 20 stores.
He told radio station LBC: ‘We haven’t made a final decision. But obviously with the difficulties we have regarding trading in France we’ve got to reshape that business.
‘The EU rules for governing borders, and their customs union are totally out of date and not suited for the purpose they are designed for – we’ve got a fandango of bureaucracy.
‘We are getting about 80 per cent of our product through, less than that in France because the French, predictably, are draconian.
These rules serve no purpose at all – our food standards are higher than the European Union and they have not changed since we were part of the EU.’
Norman also warned of a ‘perfect storm’ brewing for retailers due to a huge shortage of lorry drivers, which is causing supply chain snarl-ups.
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