The announcement that Marks & Spencer will close all its stores in France has come as a shock to the company's French customers and to the foreigners living in Paris who appreciate the quality of its garments says the country's TV channel FR1.

Nine stores in the Paris area and nine other stores in major cities across the country are to be shut as part of a sweeping restructuring announced by the company today. Marks & Spencer opened its first store in France in 1975, and its 18 stores here currently employ around 1,700 people.

The company attributes the closures to poor profitability. M&S is in the process of extending its store in the centre of Paris' Boulevard Haussman shopping area, but no doubt this will now be stopped.

No mention was made as to the timing of the store closures. Similar moves are planned across Europe.

By Marc de Laroche

For full details on the M&S changes click here.