John Lewis boss Andy Street apologises for saying "France is finished"

Joe Hall
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Bitter Street: the John Lewis launched a scathing attack on France (Source: Getty)

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, has one piece of advice for anyone with investments in the country: Get out now.

The John Lewis boss described France as "finished", saying it was "sclerotic, hopeless and downbeat", but has since apologised for his comments.

According to The Times, Street made the undiplomatic remarks at the launch event for a new John Lewis start-up competition. Earlier in the week he had been in Paris on behalf of the retail brand to receive an award for being one of the world's best retailers.

He said the prize was "made of plastic and is frankly revolting".

Last month France recorded its first drop in unemployment for the year, but also admitted it was going to miss its budget deficit target.

Advising an audience of British entrepreneurs to pull their investments out of the country, Street said:

I have never been to a country more ill at ease … nothing works and nobody cares about it.
You get on the 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' managing director has since apologised for the comments. 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.

The French embassy criticised Street's comments, telling the Times they were "wide of the mark." In January the embassy published a 10-point list attacking a City AM article that was critical of France.

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