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France: Where have UK newspapers gone?

Why have overseas newspapers - including those from the UK - disappeared from many tabac shelves in France?

There is good news for Britons in France missing their daily dose of headlines from home - newspapers that have been missing from tabac shelves, in some cases for months, may be about to return.

The coronavirus lockdown can explain some of the problems tabacs have had getting London newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph and The Times on their shelves in the past few months.

Takeover confirmed

But the greatest issue has been the financial difficulties of distribution giant Presstalis, which went into receivership in May.

This week, however, the tribunal de commerce de Paris approved a takeover offer from a consortium of daily newspapers. Its regional subsidiaries have already been liquidated, and the rescued company will now be known as France Messagerie.

Restoring confidence

The company, which distributes daily newspapers and magazines - including a selection of British newspapers to 22,000 points of sale - now has to regain the confidence of publishers. A number of newspapers and magazines have switched distribution operations to a rival, which now claims to be the largest distributor of newspapers and magazines in France.

Louis Dreyfus, president of the cooperative of daily newspapers that bought France Messagerie, welcomed the court's decision. "The priority of France Messagerie, which has more than 250 employees, is now to build trusting, transparent and lasting relationships with all the players in the sector.

"The continued distribution of the press throughout the country is a democratic requirement that the State will continue to preserve", Bruno Le Maire and Franck Riester, Ministers of the Economy and Culture, said in a joint press release. "The public authorities will continue to be attentive to the social consequences of this restructuring."

"From tomorrow, France Messagerie will have to work tirelessly to perpetuate its economic model and offer publishers a quality service while guaranteeing their financial flows," said Mr Dreyfus, who is also chairman of the management board of Le Monde.

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