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Stonemanor to close 'until further notice' due to label language laws

14:57 12/01/2022

Expat retailer Stonemanor will shut its two stores on the outskirts of Brussels next week "until further notice", after falling foul of Belgian food labelling laws.

The stores in Everberg and Rhôde-Saint-Genese will close on 20 January, Stonemanor announced on its Facebook page, but products will still be sold via the group's online store.

A 1977 Belgian law states that food labels must be in the official language of the region where the product is sold. Belgian food safety organisation Afsca is responsible for checks.

In Brussels, bilingual French/Dutch labels are required. Both of Stonemanor's stores are in Flanders, so all ingredients and allergen information should be translated into Dutch.

"Following a lengthy ongoing process concerning [our] situation, we are waiting for further judgment from the Belgian courts," Stonemanor said.

"We can assure you that we are working as hard as we can to have the stores reopened as quickly as possible."

Until 20 January, both stores are open as normal. Stonemanor said its stores would then be closed until at least March. 

It has been a difficult year for Stonemanor, which had to close its stores temporarily in February 2021 due to Brexit paperwork-related supply issues.

Stonemanor delivers thousands of food products and other items from its Norfolk warehouse in the UK. It has been serving expats and fans of British food specialities since 1982.

But since the UK left the European Union last January, it has faced a huge administrative burden to deliver goods to Belgium and has relied increasingly on Irish suppliers for many products.

Written by The Bulletin



I remember when the Flemish insisted on changing ALL the French names to Dutch on road signs on motorways passing through Flanders. So some unsuspecting tourist driving through tiny Belgium is supposed to know that in Flanders Liege is Luik, Lille is Rijsel (even though there is a Lille in Antwerp province), Tournai is Doornik etc. The language "laws" are a joke, especially when they are enforced just to hassle or for political reasons. I never noticed any of the many Flemish customers at Stone Manor struggling to read the English labels.

Jan 13, 2022 15:51

I do remember driving around the incomplete Brussels Northern Ring in 1977 looking for Ghent and finding Gand and Gent but being very disturbed when I found Bergen! I did not think that the Ring went that far North.
It is a nice touch for people to use their mother tongue at will but we all know when it is done for aggressive political reasons.
Would it be an idea to ask customers to become members to circumnavigate the language laws making StoneManor a private club? It was a very intelligent decision to source products from Ireland and one in the eye for Brexit!

Jan 13, 2022 18:08

I am sad for the owners and staff, but please don't blame Belgium.
Blame Brexit!The buck stops there!

Jan 13, 2022 19:35

This situation is very odd.

I see no translations in my local Turkish produce shop.

Any other national shops getting translations?

Since this has been a 'sleeping dog' issue within Belgium since 1977 and Belgiums accomodating and pragmatic approach, I rather think this has been impose by the EU?

May be just an EU Brexit arguement?

Any other thoughts?

Jan 18, 2022 17:27