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Why Brexit closed a 30-year-old British food shop on French Riviera

We spoke to the director of Geoffrey’s in Antibes about how the store started and the problems after Brexit

Director Chris Brand outside Geoffrey’s of London, in Antibes, which closed in December Pic: Chris Brand / Geoffrey’s of London

Geoffrey’s of London, thought to have been the largest independently owned UK food shop in France, has closed, a casualty of Brexit. 

It closed its doors before Christmas, as well as its wholesale side, and a dozen staff are looking for work. 

Selling British food for 30 years

The shop opened in 1991 after owner Geoffrey Garnett spotted a business opportunity while holidaying in Antibes. 

It served expatriates, yacht-owners and workers and French people who enjoy UK foods. 

Complications after Brexit

Director Chris Brand, pictured, said: “It was due to Brexit-related complications: increased paperwork, suppliers who weren’t set up to deal with the formalities, vets’ certificates for fresh products… It’s worth it for a full pallet of bacon or sausages, but not mixed pallets. 

“UK prices were also going sky high and we had staff issues. 

Read more: Number of UK firms exporting goods to EU dropped by a third

Read more: French set-up going to plan as UK wine wholesaler moves citing Brexit

British leaving the area

“Things had been running smoothly until Brexit kicked in. We kept it up as long as we could, including 20 years for our wholesale warehouse, which I set up with Geoffrey and his wife.”

He added that some British residents or second-home owners had left Antibes and the cost-of-living rises had also not helped as their products were not seen as ‘essentials’.

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