John Lewis MD apologises for saying "France is finished"

The managing director of John Lewis, Andy Street, has issued an "unreserved" apology for describing France as "sclerotic, hopeless and downbeat".

The retailer produced a statement from Street on Friday afternoon following the reporting of his comments in The Times and other papers.

Street said: "The remarks I made were supposed to be lighthearted views, and tongue in cheek. On reflection I clearly went too far. I regret the comments, and apologise unreservedly."

Street’s words, which include advice to businessmen with investments in the country to "get them out quickly", came as John Lewis prepares the launch of a French-language version of its e-commerce website.

He was speaking on Thursday evening in London to an audience of entrepreneurs at a competition for start-ups run by John Lewis, having just visited Paris for the World Retail Congress.

He said: "I have never been to a country more ill at ease… nothing works and worse, nobody cares about it.

"You get on Eurostar from something I can only describe as the squalor pit of Europe, Gare du Nord, and you get off at a modern, forward-looking station [St Pancras]."

John Lewis told PRWeek it did not have a transcript of Street's comments.

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