British retailer Marks & Spencer said on Tuesday it plans to temporarily close its food shops in the Czech Republic because coronavirus restrictions had sapped foot traffic.
The British chain is also having trouble with importing goods from the UK, citing difficulties with Brexit.
Large signs adorned now the shelves saying, “We’re sorry that some of your favorite foods are not available. This situation is due to the new UK/EU import legislation. We are working hard to ensure that these missing products come back soon.”
As Lidovky.cz reports, on Wednesday afternoon, a long queue formed in front of the M&S store in Nový Smíchov shopping center. “People are insane. As soon as it appeared in the media that we were closing, they started shopping like crazy,” says one store assistant.
“Shelves with fresh food have been empty due to Brexit for several days, other food items are gradually selling out. But we still have something,” she added.
Before closing all 18 domestic stores, the British company wants to sell as much as possible. Food with a shelf life until the end of January has therefore become cheaper by up to 70 percent, and the Christmas sale continues.
Fresh food has so far proved to be the biggest problem due to delays in transport, especially fish. Fishermen have to submit new health certificates, customs declarations, and other permits. As a result, transport to Europe takes several days, despite the additional costs involved.
Deliveries of goods that had been processed in one day took three or more days in the first working week after Britain’s withdrawal agreement from the EU.
Despite problems with deliveries, Marks & Spencer is not yet ready to leave the Czech Republic. Typical British goods, including food, can now be bought online. In addition to rohlik.cz, last week they launched a partner sale on mall.cz e-shop.
Online sales via its Czech website rose more than 200% in the third quarter, it said.
The company does not yet know the date of the reopening of grocery stores. The management of the Czech branched is waiting for the development of the epidemic situation in the country.
The Marks & Spencer on Wenceslas Square in Prague is the UK retailer’s largest department store in the Czech Republic. It covers 2,500m2 spread over several floors.
The Food Hall on the top floor includes fresh meat and fish, fruit and vegetables, curries, pasta sauces, sandwiches, cereals, soups, biscuits, snacks, teas, and coffees, plus a range of international wines and Champagnes.
In the Czech Republic, Marks & Spencer has 18 stores and employs some 460 people.