If you come from France and you want to go shopping, but you can’t find your way back to the commercial jungle that is London, then this article is for you. Some of the commercial signs found in the UK are very rarely identical to those found in France. So, to make your life easier, French Morning London has compiled a non-exhaustive list of French shops and their equivalents in England, according to the products sold and the prices charged. In addition to that, you can check the-shops.co.uk/ if you want to learn more about how to find these shops in the UK.
The shops of the UK
It is not easy to find an equivalent of Fnac in the United Kingdom, i.e. the same chain selling products as varied as computers, books, toys, household appliances, multimedia, etc. Currently, the only chain of stores that can be compared to Fnac is HMV. However, the comparison must be put into perspective since HMV sells mainly products from the music industry. There are more than 130 HMVs in the UK. Also, the brands known as ‘Fopp’ are subsidiaries of HMV which sell books and films in addition to music. Nevertheless, the group is experiencing major financial difficulties, and has therefore announced the forthcoming closure of around 30 stores in 2019. In central London, HMV Bromley and the Fopp store in Covent Garden are threatened by closure.
The first supermarket on this list, Monoprix is a supermarket chain that claims to offer top-of-the-range quality products. Moreover, these stores are often found in the centres of medium and large towns in France, which contributes to making this supermarket one of the most expensive in the country. In the United Kingdom, supermarkets in the mass retail sector include 2 supermarket chains whose standing and geographical distribution would be equivalent to that of Monoprix: Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Waitrose. These two supermarkets are the most expensive on the market and differ from brands such as Tesco or Sainsbury’s by the claimed quality of the products available in their stores.
In the United Kingdom, the equivalent store to Auchan in terms of price would undoubtedly be Sainsbury’s. This British hypermarket chain can be identified by its orange sign.
Carrefour – E. Leclerc
On the other side of the Channel, the hypermarkets equivalent to Carrefour, both in terms of prices and the diversity of food products sold, are Tesco, the most present hypermarket chain on British soil, or Asda or even Morrisons.
Leader Price – Lidl
Concerning the supermarkets with the lowest prices in France and whose product range is lower than the mastodons of mass retailing such as Carrefour or Leclerc, the Leader Price brand is still among the most competitive. The equivalent of this brand in the United Kingdom is Aldi, although the latter is also present in France.
As for the supermarket chain recognized as the cheapest in France, in other words Lidl, the German brand has no equivalent since it is massively present on the British island.
The famous supermarket chain specialising solely in the sale of frozen products originating from Fontainebleau, in Seine-et-Marne, has no equivalent store in the United Kingdom in the sense that there are no stores selling exclusively frozen products. The United Kingdom store which most closely resembles Picard’s sales model is Iceland. As its name indicates, Iceland is a supermarket chain which focuses in particular on the sale of frozen products including vegetables and ready meals, although it also sells non-frozen products as in all other supermarkets.
Fly – Castorama
Fly, the French retailer of furniture and decorative objects, does not exist once you cross the Channel. The equivalent furniture retailer in the United Kingdom is Homebase: this British company also sells furniture and decorative objects. In addition, Homebase does not only sell furniture and decorative items, but also gardening and DIY items, for example. So you could also say that Homebase is the equivalent of stores like Jardiland, or even BHV, the Parisian department store specialising in home furnishings and DIY.
Then, French stores that are relatively more focused on DIY than home improvement, such as Castorama or Bricorama, find their British equivalent with the emblematic B&Q group.
Darty – Baker
The two competing French companies sharing the household appliances and multimedia market in France, Boulanger and Darty, are not present internationally, and therefore not in the United Kingdom. Here, the equivalent stores in their sales areas to the two French brands are mainly: Currys, PC World and Argos. These 3 groups present in the United Kingdom also sell multimedia products, but also household appliances of all kinds.
Decathlon – Intersport
Decathlon, the northern French retailer specialising in sports and leisure goods, is also present in the UK, so don’t panic for fans of the brand. However, the other company specialising in the distribution of sporting goods in France, Intersport, did not cross the Channel to set up shop there. Nevertheless, this is not what is missing in the United Kingdom since the famous Sports Direct and JD Sports, which sell the same style of articles, are spread all over the British territory. In recent years, the British company JD Sports has even expanded internationally and established itself in France.
Galeries Lafayette – Le Printemps
These big Parisian brands also have equivalents in London. Indeed, the big names such as Selfridges, John Lewis or Debenhams are the British cousins of Printemps or Galeries Lafayette. These stores, whose huge surface areas in the middle of large cities make them internationally renowned, sell the same major ready-to-wear brands in particular.
In France, Sephora is the leading chain of stores selling perfumes and cosmetics. This branch of the LVMH group has never established itself in the United Kingdom, but it remains difficult to find a British store that has the same characteristics as this French chain. However, if you go to Boots, you can find the majority of the fragrances offered by Sephora and some cosmetic brands, whether high-end or low-priced. At John Lewis department store, or other department stores like Selfridges, Harrods, M&S or Debenhams, you can also find the same fragrances, but as far as cosmetics are concerned, the department store doesn’t offer low-priced ranges, and is more aimed at high-end or even luxury buyers. Finally, all the perfume brands present in France in Sephora’s shelves have their own boutiques in London and the UK.
Toys “R “Us
The American chain of stores established in France since the 1950s, had also established itself in the United Kingdom in the same decade. Now in financial liquidation, the American group is gradually withdrawing from these two countries, but in the United Kingdom, as in France, there are other stores that represent an alternative to Toys “R “Us. Across the Channel, these alternatives are called, among others, Hamleys or John Lewis. The London store Hamleys, owned by a French group, is quite simply one of the biggest toy stores in the world: located on Regent Street on 7 floors, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, it’s because the toy certainly doesn’t exist.
André – Eram – Minelli
Footwear and clothing brands present in France, such as André or Eram, are not present on British soil. However, equivalent stores are present in London and the United Kingdom: Aldo, Office, and Dune. These brands offer models substantially similar to those on the shelves of the French brands mentioned above, and the same applies to prices.