Marks & Spencer is closing down its stores across Europe in a bold first step of its new ‘Global M&S’ trading strategy.
M&S proudly unveiled the plan in Brussels as its flagship store in the capital of Europe closed its doors for the last time, whilst Brexit negotiations in the same city head towards a triumphant conclusion. Explaining the decision to withdraw from Europe, M&S Chief Executive Steve Rowe heralded the innovative and forward-looking strategy.
‘This move to close all our EU stores will create a deep and special partnership with our European customers,’ enthused Rowe, as removers pushed past him to begin packing vans full of M&S crumpets and muffins for repatriation back to the UK.
‘Now we can finally embrace the sunlit uplands of global trading’, said Rowe. ‘We are leaving the EU, but we are not leaving Europe, oh no’, he asserted, whilst balanced precariously on a crate of innovative M&S raspberry jam. ‘Well, not unless you count closing all of our stores in France, Belgium, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.’
‘We may be closing down our Champs-Élysées store, but we have just opened a new M&S Simply Food in Torrington Service Station, North Devon, that will welcome customers from all over the world’, announced Rowe proudly. ‘Our European customers will now be able to do some tourism in Devon whilst stocking up on microwavable dinners. Plus, our new outlet sells petrol as well, which the Brussels and Paris stores didn’t do. And you’ll need to refuel after driving the 776 km from Paris,’ he added.
‘Oh, look, it’s half price today on the Victoria sponge cakes, so help yourselves – you really can have your cake and eat it!’ exclaimed Rowe, in an attempt to deflect difficult questions. ‘Until you’ve actually eaten it, of course. Then the cake will be gone for good. I never really understood that metaphor to be honest.’
Although the company has launched its new strategy, it admits that some of the details remain to be defined, and it is asking others to fill in the gaps in a spirit of ambition and innovation.
‘Today, M&S is appealing to our European partners to be creative, and help us make Global M&S a success. It shouldn’t be up to us, our European consumers should be the ones to find a solution’, pleaded the CEO, surrounded by boxes of out of date cucumber sandwiches.
‘Perhaps they could hire drones to fly across the Channel to collect their chicken tikka masala?’ he suggested. ‘Or what about using pigeons to deliver shortbread – look, do I have to think of all the answers, we are in this together,’ he snapped, removing his foot from a box of crushed scones.
‘Yes, having a retail presence in major European capitals could be seen as good business sense by some,’ conceded Rowe. ‘But focusing all our efforts on Europe ignores the huge growth opportunities that we are seeing from Fiji. We are sure there will be great interest from the Pacific in our range of men’s tweed jackets and thermal underwear,’ he claimed, as he stumbled backwards into several boxes labelled ‘M&S Desserts – return to UK’.
With the rent on the huge Belgian store reported as being 10 million Euro per year and commercial leases in Belgium known to be of long duration with serious exit clauses, Rowe refused to be drawn on reports that M&S would still be liable for payments on the lease until well into the future.
‘It is possible that we may have to make some payments during a transitional period, but I promise this strategy will save us lots of money eventually. In fact, I’m so sure of it, I’ll put it on the side of a bus.’
‘Look, the details don’t really matter, everyone just needs to get behind the plan and stop talking M&S down’, sulked Rowe, in the face of sceptical questioning.
‘Anyway, we’ve decided now, it would look stupid to change our minds,’ he huffed, whilst angrily scraping sticky toffee pudding off his trousers.