mars 24, 2023


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Marks and Spencer chief warns of ‘significant drop in food supply’ for Northern Ireland ahead of Christmas

Marks and Spencer, chief executive of Marks and Spencer, has warned that Northern Ireland customers could face fewer options for Christmas food and higher prices in stores this year as Brexit takes its toll on imports.

Customers here won’t be able to take advantage of the pre-Christmas food ordering service either.

Archie Norman said supply chain issues coming into Northern Ireland will « get worse » when the protocol is fully implemented after the current grace period expires on September 30.

In an article for the Mail on Sunday he said: « The result will be a significant reduction in the UK food supply to Northern Ireland and an increase in prices for its citizens. Already, M&S has had to cancel sales of Christmas Food to Order, a first-class service, to Northern Ireland because we We don’t know if we can get it there. »

In an interview with BBC Radio 4 earlier this summer, he said: « This Christmas, I can already tell you, we have to make decisions to write off a Northern Ireland product because it’s simply not worth the risk of trying to get it. »

Norman did not detail the exact lines that would be struck but it is likely that animal-related products were coming from Britain.

However, an M&S spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph that pre-order service will be affected more than what is available in-store this holiday season.

He said: “We have yet to launch a Christmas food service for 2021. However, unfortunately, we don’t think we will be able to offer this service to customers in Northern Ireland this year. We will of course continue to stock a wide range of delicious Christmas products in our stores across Northern Ireland. « .

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Protocol is the means by which the difficult border on the island of Ireland is avoided. She sees Northern Ireland continuing to follow some EU rules on goods and thus creating a de facto maritime border with Britain, which has angered unionists.

These rules mean that any product containing animal-related ingredients must have a paper-stamped veterinary certificate coming from outside the European Union.

“The result is a deception of bureaucracy, additional costs and waste of food,” Mr. Norman said.

He revealed that, on average, some of the retailer’s trucks travel to ports in the GB with 700 pages of documentation, « the equivalent of three paperback books ».

Northern Ireland has been given a Brexit grace period until September 30, after which it will follow the same rules as the rest of Europe regarding food imports from Great Britain.

The retail chief suggested that the EU agree to « parity » to mitigate shortages and additional costs.

He explained: « This means that the EU and UK recognize each other’s standards so that it is possible to trade without checks. In a rational world we would all agree on parity tomorrow. With no major changes planned to food standards, the parity period would be in everyone’s interest, if It was her common sense her day.

“This is not a one-way street. For now, the Irish government is following EU guidelines and implementing their own strict controls. But by contrast, the UK has allowed EU products to continue flowing into the country, and there are no veterinary checks and no border checks.

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“From October, that will change when UK government rules are set to reflect those of the European Union. So, in a mutual act of self-destruction, we risk burdening French cheese producers and Spanish chorizo ​​manufacturers with the same costs we faced trying to export food to the Union European ».

“The delays, lack of drivers, and paper hills can be staggering,” he said.

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