Marks and Spencer is to sell its 18 French stores to department stores group Galeries Lafayette for an undisclosed sum. M&S is "still in consultation" over remaining stores in the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg. The four Belgian stores will close. Diageo and Pernod have struck a deal to sell Seagram's bourbon Four Roses to Japanese brewer Kirin for 20 billion yen ($165m) if they get regulatory clearance for the Seagram purchase. Pepsi Bottling Group is emerging as the favourite to buy the Britvic soft drinks company, which is being sold off in an auction. Robin Whitbread has now retired from Sainsbury's board of directors. Regional food and drink producers association The Yorkshire Pantry has been given £150,000, from FFB's £3m fund, to help member businesses recover from the the impact of foot and mouth. Tesco has opened a £45m, 500,000 sq ft ambient food distribution centre at Thurrock. The depot will be operated by Tibbett & Britten Retail Logistics, which is also providing secondary distribution to 100 Tesco stores in the south-east. The Association of Convenience Stores has scheduled its third Personnel & Training Forum for October 25. Induction training and best lottery practice are on the agenda. Shepcote Distributors of Drifford, East Yorkshire, is opening a dedicated nut free production area for manufacturing cake decorations, to give nut allergy suffers a guarantee against contamination. The DTI has launched its latest firework safety campaign, reminding retailers it is illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 18. Campaign sponsors include Asda. Asda will hold firework parties in 20 stores, starting in Bodmin, Cornwall, on October 15. Allied Domecq will receive more than £112m in refunded Mexican excise duties after a team of spirits firms won its case in the Mexican Supreme Court. Own-label processor Grampian Country Food Group, whose product range includes in-flight meals, has been forced to slash 130 jobs as airlines suffer lost business after the terrorist attacks on the US. Fiske Food Ingredients has been formed from merger of Ellis and Everard with the natural ingredients business G.Fiske & Co. Philip Morris has seen a 5.3% rise in third quarter profit, driven by higher US cigarette prices and an increase in overseas sales. Luxury goods group Moët Henessey Louis Vuitton has issued its second profits warning in as many months as sales fell 8% year-on-year. {{NEWS }}