Marks & Spencer has won a French court case brought by three trade unions following the UK group's decision to close 18 stores as part of its foreign downsizing.

The CFDT, CFTX and CGC-FE unions had specifically challenged the legality of M&S' European works council. The court dismissed the case and ordered the CFDT to pay legal costs and a fine of FF10,000 (US$1,408) to M&S.

"We are delighted with this ruling," said M&S. "It is a very positive thing because we can now really refocus activities on finding a buyer for the stores."

The group's French operations still faces a court decision concerning three of its managers. An earlier ruling has already determined that the group has broken labour law.