UK retailer Marks & Spencer has put the brakes on plans to close the 18 stores it operates in France after a sustained wave of protest from local employees, trade unions and even the government. The closures were announced in March as part of a large-scale shutdown of the group's non-UK operations. M&S France chairman Alain Juillet has now announced that it is seeking a buyer for the French stores, in order that employees might retain their positions or be offered similar employment by the new store owner.