Over the past weekend, British retailer Marks and Spencer’s announced the closure of all its European shops. The official reason given was a lack of perspective and reorganisation.
With the prospect of a hard Brexit and possible problems with free access to the European market, as well as the UK Pound currently hovering at an exchange rate of about 1.10 Euros while the retailer’s clothes department offers clothes at prices way above asking prices in other, similar shops …
The announced closures will affect all shops and their employees in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia and Lithuania. Marks and Spencer’s opened European shops only fairly recently as part of an expansion and growth scheme.
A small Amsterdam food hall along the Kalverstraat opened in 2013. Only a year later, a larger shop with clothes department as well as a small food hall opened in The Hague. Just over a year ago, a Marks and Spencer’s flagship store opened its doors at the Avenue de la Toison d’Or in Brussels.
It is not the first time Marks and Spencer’s unsuccessfully tried to branch out and conquer the European continental market. Its first attempt ended in 2001. Then as now, closures were part of what was in fact a turn-around plan, also affecting shops in China and the UK. Closure of shops in the UK was announced after the weekend.
Marks and Spencer’s claims its webshop(s) will not be affected by its withdrawal from Europe. The question is for how long it will continue to deliver to European customers. Profits are reported to have crashed over the last few years, though Marks and Spencer’s food halls remain extremely popular.