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John Lewis Andy Street France

John Lewis boss apologises for calling France ‘sclerotic, hopeless and downbeat’


By Ishbel Macleod | PR and social media consultant

October 3, 2014 | 3 min read

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, has apologised for calling France ‘hopeless and downbeat’ and telling those with investments there to pull out.

Andy Street: John Lewis CEO

Calling the Gard du Nord “the squalor pit of Europe”, Street added that "I have never been to a country more ill at ease ... nothing works and worse, nobody cares about it.”

Making the comments to a London audience in a dinner speech after his train was delayed from Paris, Street added: "If I needed any further evidence of a country in decline, here it is. Every time I (see it), I shall think, God help France. If you've got investments in French businesses, get them out quickly."

Street has admitted that he “clearly went too far” in the comments, which were reported by The Times.

He 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.”

Last month, John Lewis reported a 3.5 per cent fall in sales from the same period in 2013.

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