So after being awarded the status of one of the world’s best retailers in Paris this week, you might have expected managing director Andy Street to have some kind words to say about his French hosts.
Not quite. He says the country is “finished.”
Speaking in London yesterday, the Times reports that John Lewis’ most senior executive said: “I have never been to a country more ill at ease… nothing works, and worse, nobody cares about it”
“If you’ve got investments in French businesses, get them out quickly”
The Times is describing his comments as tongue in cheek, but the French embassy certainly wasn’t happy with the comments, saying that “obviously many foreign businesses do not seem to share Mr Street’s view.”
Street even slammed the quality of the plastic award he picked up in Paris as “frankly revolting.”
“If I needed any further evidence of a country in decline, here it is.”
Street’s rant comes just weeks after France’s own Prime Minister said the French government would be “foutu“ (a colourful French phrase meaning ruined, or something ruder) if it didn’t turn the country’s stagnant economy round within six months.
The country is currently plagued by high unemployment that simply won’t fall, and there’s no sign of any significant growth or inflation. So Street might actually be right, even if he’s regretting the outburst a little this morning.