In fact in 2001 M&S, under the then-chairmanship of Luc Van de Velde, closed all 38 of its European stores with the loss of 3,350 jobs across the continent.
Marks and Spencer reopening in Paris (screenshot from France 24 report)Since last Friday though, they're back - in France at least - with the opening of a flagship store in the capital Paris at an address that has not gone unnoticed in the press; 100 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, "la plus belle avenue du monde" (the most beautiful avenue in the world" as the celebrated street is often called.
It opened its doors on November 24 choosing the location because it "wanted to find a prestigious address and return with a new image," as Michelle Lamberti, the company's marketing director is quoted as saying in the monthly women's magazine Marie Claire.
Although all those expat Brits - no matter how misty their memories or tenuous their ties with Blighty might have become - may have had high hopes of being able to get their hands on traditional British fare (yes there really is such a thing) they'll likely be disappointed by the reopening.
Because as the British daily The Guardian reports, the emphasis of the flagship store (there are another three scheduled to be opened in the Paris region) is most definitely not on food.
The grub is there but it's apparently squeezed into just 100 square metres of the store's 1,400 square metres of retail space.
The emphasis will be on clothing, a decision chief executive Marc Bolland defended as being a practical one.
"Let's be honest, nobody comes to the Champs Elysées to do their weekly shop," he told The Guardian.
Can't argue with that.
The company has also launched a French language website for anyone not able to make it to Paris.
Time to stock up on warm underwear and pullovers as France prepares for winter and a chance for a spot of stay-at-home Christmas shopping perhaps.
In any case, rebonjour Marks and Spencer.