Marks & Spencer said Britain's withdrawal from European Union trade rules last week was responsible for near-empty fresh-food aisles at some of its stores in Ireland yesterday. 

Aisles selling fruit and vegetables and some fresh pre-made meals were almost empty at Marks & Spencer stores in Dublin and Galway. 

Pictures posted on Twitter showed similar scenes in at least two other Dublin Marks & Spencer stores, while several rival supermarkets in Dublin had full fresh fruit and vegetable shelves. 

"Following the UK's recent departure from the EU, we are transitioning to new processes and it is taking a little longer for some of our products to reach our stores," a Marks & Spencer spokesman told Reuters. 

"We're working closely with our partners and suppliers to ensure customers can continue to enjoy the same great range of products." 

As of January 1, goods shipped back and forth between Britain and the EU are subject to customs and other bureaucratic hurdles that did not previously exist. 

The few vegetables on the shelves in an M&S store in Blackrock in Dublin were mostly potatoes, mushrooms and carrots sourced from Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

A Marks and Spencer store in Galway and one in Belfast both had a large number of empty shelves in the chilled food, meat and fruit and vegetable aisles yesterday. 

Rival Sainsbury's earlier this week said it had begun to stack some products in Northern Ireland stores from rival Spar. 

Northern Ireland is subject to customs and food safety checks under the terms of Britain's EU trade deal. 

"A small number of our products are temporarily unavailable for our customers in Northern Ireland while border arrangements are confirmed," a Sainsbury's spokesman said. 

Most of Marks and Spencer's fresh produce on Irish shelves originates from Britain or elsewhere in the world. Its products are often prominently branded as British-made. 

At least three Marks & Spencer branches in France also had empty shelves earlier this week. 

M&S is scheduled to update shareholders on its Christmas trading performance on Friday.