Michael Marks

Michael Marks

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Michael Marks was born in Slonim, Russia in 1859. As a young man Marks emigrated to England. Without a trade and unable to speak the English language, Marks moved to Leeds where there was a company called Barran that was known to employ Jewish refuges.

In 1884 Marks met Isaac Dewhurst, the owner of a warehouse in Leeds. The two men arranged a deal where Marks agreed to buy good from Dewhurst and to sell them in the numerous villages around Leeds. The venture was a success and Marks soon raised enough money to establish a stall in Leeds' open market. He also sold goods at Castleford and Wakefield markets.

Marks also decided to rent an area at the new covered market in Leeds that traded six days a week. On one of his stalls Marks sold goods that only cost one penny. Next to the stall was a big poster with the words: Don't Ask the Price, It's a Penny. Over the next few years Mark's opened similar penny stalls in covered market halls all over Yorkshire and Lancashire.

In 1894 Marks decided he needed a partner to help him expand the business. He approached Isaac Dewhurst who decided against the offer but suggested that his cashier, Tom Spencer, might be interested. Spencer had been watching the career of Michael Marks for sometime and considered the £300 required for a half-share in his business to be a good investment.

It was agreed that Spencer would manage the office and warehouse whereas Marks would continue to run the market stalls. Spencer, who had developed some important contacts while working for Isaac Dewhurst, was able to get the best prices for goods by dealing directly with the manufactures. With the help of Tom Spencer Marks was able to open stores in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Bristol, Hull, Sunderland and Cardiff.

In 1897 Marks & Spencer built a new warehouse in Manchester. This now became the centre of their business empire that now included thirty-six branches. New stores had been built in Bradford, Leicester, Northampton, Preston, and Swansea. London had seven branches including those at Brixton, Kilburn, Islington and Tottenham.

In 1903 Marks & Spenser became a limited company. Spencer's £300 investment was now worth £15,000. Tom Spencer retired later that year but Michael Marks continued to develop the business. 1906 was a record year for the company with several stores taking over £4,000 a year. This included Liverpool (£9,857), Brixton (£9,766), Leeds (£8,701), Manchester (£8,459), Bristol (£6,242), Newcastle (£5,482), Hull (£4,513) and Middlesbrough (£4,064). Michael Marks collapsed and died on 31st December, 1907.

Katerra CEO steps down from construction startup

Katerra CEO Michael Marks (right) is stepping down, and COO Paal Kibsgaard is taking his place. (Credit: Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

Katerra CEO and co-founder Michael Marks is stepping down from the Softbank-backed construction startup to work full-time as managing partner for one of its investors.

Marks, who founded the California-based company alongside longtime friend Fritz Wolff and Silver Lake’s James Davidson in 2015, will be replaced by Katerra’s chief operating officer Paal Kibsgaard, the company announced Tuesday.

Marks indicated that he will move full-time to his existing role as managing partner of venture capital firm WRVI Capital, which invested in Katerra in 2017 through its WRV II fund, according to the company’s website.

Marks is tied to at least two entities that have either invested in Katerra or its projects directly. He and the other co-founders launched Paxion, which has invested in Katerra as well as some of Katerra’s clients. They also formed an investment fund called Kandle, which has, in part, allowed them to take an equity position in some of Katerra’s projects.

Representatives for Katerra didn’t respond to requests seeking additional information.

Kibsgaard is the company’s fourth CEO since it was founded in 2015.

In the company’s press release, Marks said Katerra always planned to eventually appoint Kibsgaard as CEO — though Marks became CEO in 2017, a year after Kibsgaard joined the firm’s board. Last year, Kibsgaard was tapped COO.

The company also announced $200 million in new financing from SoftBank’s Vision Fund. SoftBank reportedly already poured north of $1 billion into the company. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news of Marks’ departure and the funding round.

During Marks’ tenure as CEO, Katerra’s workforce swelled to more than 8,000, according to the company. But the firm announced in April that it laid off 3 percent of its workforce, which would amount to 240 people based on Katerra’s figures. Company representatives wouldn’t provide further details on the layoffs.

The news came after Katerra closed one of its factories in Phoenix and reportedly laid off 200 employees. Over the last few years, the company has grappled with cost overruns, client conflicts and executive turnover. Last year Wolff, whose development company had supplied Katerra with its initial pipeline of work, stepped down from the board. It’s not clear whether Marks will remain on Katerra’s board or follow Wolff in retaining an advisory role.

As with other SoftBank-backed firms, Katerra has faced scrutiny over whether its rapid growth strategy will ultimately pay off. Last November, Marks told The Real Deal that he expected the company to become profitable sometime in 2020 and that it could go public sometime after 2021.


Establishment Edit

The company was founded by a partnership between Michael Marks, a Polish Jew [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] born in Slonim, who had migrated to Leeds, England in the early 1880s, and Thomas Spencer, a cashier from the English market town of Skipton in North Yorkshire. [17] [18] On his arrival in England, Marks worked for a company in Leeds called Barran, which employed Jewish migrants (see Sir John Barran, 1st Baronet). In 1884, he met Isaac Jowitt Dewhirst while looking for work. Dewhirst lent Marks £5 (equivalent to £570 in 2019), which he used to establish his Penny Bazaar on Kirkgate Market, in Leeds. [17] Dewhirst also taught him a little English. Dewhirst's cashier was Thomas Spencer, a bookkeeper, whose second wife, Agnes, helped improve Marks's English. In 1894, when Marks acquired a permanent stall in the Leeds covered market, he invited Spencer to become his partner. [19]

In 1901, Marks moved to the Birkenhead open market, where he amalgamated his business with Spencer. In 1903, the two men were allocated stall numbers 11 & 12 in the centre aisle, and there they opened the Penny Bazaar. The company left Birkenhead Market on 24 February 1923. [20]

The next few years saw Michael Marks and Tom Spencer move the original Leeds Penny Bazaar to 20, Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, and they also opened market stalls in many locations around the North West of England. [17] [21]

Domestic growth Edit

Marks and Spencer, known colloquially as "Marks and Sparks", [22] or "M&S", made its reputation in the early 20th century with a policy of only selling British-made goods (it started to back down from this policy in the 1990s). [23] It entered into long-term relationships with British manufacturers, and sold clothes and food under the "St Michael" brand, which was introduced in 1928. The brand honours Michael Marks. It also accepted the return of unwanted items, giving a full cash refund if the receipt was shown, no matter how long ago the product was purchased, which was unusual for the time. [24]

M&S staff raised £5,000 to pay for a Supermarine Spitfire fighter aircraft called The Marksman in 1941. [24]

By 1950, virtually all goods were sold under the "St Michael" label. M&S lingerie, women's clothes and girls' school uniform were branded under the "St Margaret" label until the whole range of general merchandise became "St Michael". Simon Marks, son of Michael Marks, died in 1964, after fifty-six years' service. Israel Sieff, the son-in-law of Michael Marks, took over as chairman and in 1968, John Salisse became the company Director. A cautious international expansion began with the introduction of Asian food in 1974. M&S opened stores in continental Europe in 1975 and in Ireland four years later. [24]

The company put its main emphasis on quality, including a 1957 stocking size measuring system. [24] For most of its history, it also had a reputation for offering fair value for money. When this reputation began to waver, it encountered serious difficulties. Arguably, M&S has historically been an iconic retailer of 'British Quality Goods'. [24]

The uncompromising attitude towards customer relations was summarised by the 1953 slogan: "The customer is always and completely right!" [24]

Energy efficiency was improved by the addition of thermostatically controlled refrigerators in 1963. [24]

M&S began selling Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings in 1958. In an effort to improve the quality of their Swiss rolls, they hired the food expert Nat Goldberg, who made a major improvement across their entire cake range, which had lost the public's favour a few years earlier. As a later measure to improve food quality, food labelling was improved and "sell by dates" were phased in between 1970 and 1972. [24]

Smoking was banned from all M&S shops in 1959 because of the fire hazards it posed. [24]

In 1972, Marcus Sieff became chairman, remaining in place until 1984, and emphasising the importance of good staff relations to the tradition of the store, while extending staff benefits to areas such as restaurants and chiropody. [25]

International expansion Edit

The company expanded into Canada in 1973, and at one point had forty-seven stores across Canada. Despite efforts to improve its image, the chain was never able to move beyond its reputation there as a stodgy retailer, one that catered primarily to senior citizens and expatriate Britons. The shops in Canada were smaller than British outlets, and did not carry the same selection. In the late 1990s, further efforts were made to modernise them and also expand the customer base. Unprofitable locations were closed. Nonetheless, the Canadian operations continued to lose money, and the last 38 shops in Canada were closed in 1999. [26]

Expansion into France began with shops opening in Paris at Boulevard Haussmann and Lyon in 1975, followed by a second Paris shop at Rosny 2 in 1977. Further expansion into other French and Belgian cities followed into the 1980s. Although the Paris shops remained popular and profitable, the Western European operation as a whole did not fare as well and eighteen shops were sold in 2001. [27] However, in April 2011, M&S changed directions again with an announcement to reopen a store that will not only sell clothing but food as well. In addition the group also opened several food outlets throughout the French capital. The first branch opened on 24 November 2011 at the Champs-Élysées in a ceremony attended by the company's CEO Marc Bolland, the model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and the British Ambassador to France, Sir Peter Westmacott. [28]

In 1988, the company acquired Brooks Brothers, an American clothing company [29] and Kings Super Markets, a US food chain. [30]

In 2016, M&S expanded to sell through European marketplace Zalando on their German, French, Dutch, Belgian and Austrian sites with a range of kidswear and lingerie. [31]

Financial decline Edit

M&S's profits peaked in the financial year 1997/1998. [32] At the time it was seen as a continuing success story, but with hindsight it is considered that during Sir Richard Greenbury's tenure as head of the company, profit margins were pushed to untenable levels, and the loyalty of its customers was seriously eroded. The rising cost of using British suppliers was also a burden, as rival retailers increasingly imported their goods from low-cost countries, but M&S's belated switch to overseas suppliers undermined a core part of its appeal to the public. Another factor was the company's refusal (until 2001) to accept any credit cards except its own chargecard. [33]

These factors combined to plunge M&S into a sudden slump, which took the company, its shareholders, who included hundreds of thousands of small investors, and nearly all retail analysts and business journalists, by surprise. The company's share price fell by more than two thirds, and its profits fell from more than a billion pounds in 1997 and 1998 to £145 million in the year ended 31 March 2001. [34]

In 2001, with changes in its business focus such as accepting credit cards, the introduction of the "Per Una" clothing range designed by George Davies, and a redesign of its underlying business model, profits recovered somewhat. [35]

In 2004, M&S was in the throes of an attempted takeover by Arcadia Group and BHS boss, Philip Green. [36] On 12 July a recovery plan was announced which would involve selling off its financial services business M&S Money to HSBC Bank plc, buying control of the Per Una range, closing the Gateshead Lifestore and stopping the expansion of its Simply Food line of shops. Philip Green withdrew his takeover bid after failing to get sufficient backing from shareholders. [36] [37]

In February 2007, M&S announced the opening of the world's largest M&S shop outside the UK at Dubai Festival City. [38] On 2 October 2008, M&S opened its first mainland China shop in Shanghai. Problems with the supply chain for the first few months of opening led Stuart Rose, M&S chairman, to describe failures in "basic shopkeeping". [39]

Restructuring Edit

Twenty-two unprofitable and minor food stores, such as branches in Ripon and Balham, were closed in early 2009 as part of a cost-cutting measure. [24] In August 2010, it was confirmed that the Grantham branch of M&S would close, along with two other Lincolnshire branches in Skegness and Scunthorpe, owing to low sales in these older format stores. These decisions met with protests from the local communities and petitions were signed in support of retaining the stores, although the closures went ahead. [40]

The Retail Knowledge Bank conducted an audit of the company's brands in August 2010, and revealed that sales of womenswear were at a 10-year low. Drapers magazine claimed that Per Una was the only clothing brand not at risk of being axed while Marc Bolland, the chief executive, considered which brands would be retained. [41] The Limited Collection, Autograph, Autograph Weekend, and Classic Collection brands were considered for the cull during mid-2010, but were later given a reprieve. [42]

On 9 November 2010, Bolland revealed plans to strengthen the company's overall brand image and targeting sales of between £800m and £1bn for which company will increase capital expenditure to £850m to £900m over the next three years to fund the plans. [43] The plan also involved the discontinuation of its 'Portfolio' fashion brand and the sale of electrical products. The company announced a new marketing strapline, 'Only at M&S', and that it would revamp its website. [44]

Bolland ordered a new store design in May 2011, and it was announced that the company would spend around £600 million between 2011 and 2014 on its UK stores, involving the launch of a range of different store formats based on the age, affluence and demographics of people in those areas. The design also included the trial of a new in-store "navigation scheme", which followed research showing that shoppers found M&S store layouts confusing and "difficult to shop [in]". It also confirmed that the amount of money-off promotions and deals offered would be increased, and that it would replace the Marks & Spencer label on clothing with "M&S Woman" and "M&S Man". [45]

By 2013, M&S's clothing division had an 11% market share in the UK. [46] [47] [48]

In May 2013, the Best of British range was launched along with an overhaul of Per Una and Indigo. [49] Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne became the marketing director, succeeding Steven Sharp in July. Bolland vowed to bring "quality and style back". [47] [48] M&S also stated it intended to increase its number of UK suppliers from the 20 it had at the time. [49]

In November 2013, it was revealed that Bill Adderley, founder of homeware chain Dunelm Group, had built a £250m stake in M&S over the past 18 months. This disclosure was made under stock market rules which require any holding larger than a 3 per cent share to be made public. [50]

On 7 January 2016 it was announced that Marc Bolland, who has been CEO since 2010, would step down on 2 April 2016, and be replaced by Steve Rowe, head of clothing, and previously head of the food business. [51]

In 2018, Stuart Machin was appointed Managing Director of Food to lead the transformation of the Food business. [52]

2015–2016 store cull Edit

Stores identified for closure in July 2015 included Woolwich, Walsall, Erdington, Aldershot (which was there since 1922), Pontypridd in Wales, Hounslow in west London, and Royal Quays in North Shields, the three full-line stores in Stevenage, Wood Green in north London, and The Fort shopping park in Castle Bromwich and the Simply Food in Castle Bromwich. [53] [54] [55] The Lewisham store also lost a floor. [53] [54] [55] The closures in 2015 also included three traditional food and clothing shops, one Simply Food store and four Outlet stores that sell end-of-season clothing. [53] Some 430 workers were affected by the closures it was intended they would be offered jobs at other branches. [53] The cull cost up to £200m to implement the closure included loss-making stores in European markets such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as outposts in China. [53] [54] [55]

2017–2018 store cull Edit

Several smaller stores were identified for closure in November 2017. [56] [57] On 31 January 2018, fourteen stores were identified for closure in April, including one of their oldest presences, that in the town centre of Birkenhead. Other stores due for closure in the same month were those in Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach, Putney and Redditch. [58] Meanwhile, eight other stores were earmarked for closure at a later date, pending consultation those in Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley, Stockport and an outlet store in Denton, Greater Manchester. [58] [59]

Mid–2018 store cull Edit

On 23 May 2018, M&S managers confirmed that 14 more shops were to be closed and another 86 were under investigation, and thus put on notice, because of falling corporate sales and customer footfall. This would take the total to over 100 closing by 2022, [60] [61] [62] as corporate profits plunged 62% amid sweeping store closure plans. [63] The company hoped to revive profits by using its website. [64] [61]

  • Ruislip Highstreet, West London [62][61]
  • Bayswater, West London [62][61]
  • Fleetwood, Lancashire [62][61]
  • Newton Abbot, Devon [62][61]
  • Clacton-on-Sea, Essex [62][61]
  • Holloway Road, North London [62][61]
  • Darlington, County Durham [62][61]
  • East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire [62][61]
  • Falkirk, Stirlingshire [62][61]
  • Kettering, Northamptonshire [62][61]
  • Newmarket, Suffolk [62][61]
  • New Mersey Speke, Merseyside [62][61]
  • Northampton, Northamptonshire [62][61]
  • Stockton, County Durham [62][61]
  • Walsall, West Midlands [62][61]
  • Andover, Hampshire [62][61]
  • Basildon, Essex [62][61]
  • Birkenhead, Merseyside [61]
  • Bournemouth, Dorset [61]
  • Bridlington, East Yorkshire [61]
  • Denton, Greater Manchester [61]
  • Durham, County Durham [61]
  • Falmouth, Cornwall [61]
  • Fareham, Hampshire [61]
  • Fforestfach, Swansea [61]
  • Keighley, West Yorkshire [61]
  • Putney, South West London [61]
  • Redditch, Worcestershire [61]
  • Stockport, Greater Manchester [61]

Proposed closure dates where known: [63]

  • Bayswater end of July 2018
  • Fleetwood end of July 2018
  • Newton Abbot end of July 2018
  • Clacton early 2019
  • Holloway Road early 2019
  • Walsall mid August 2019

Early 2019 store cull Edit

On 15 January 2019, the company named the next wave of 17 stores earmarked for closure. The 17 proposed closures were part of the company's five-year plan to shut more than 100 stores by 2022. The 17 stores which it proposed to close were: Ashford, Barrow, Bedford, Boston, Buxton, Cwmbran, Deal, Felixstowe, Huddersfield, Hull, Junction One Antrim Outlet, Luton Arndale, Newark, Northwich, Rotherham, Sutton Coldfield and Weston-super-Mare. [65]

2020 losses Edit

On 18 August 2020, the company announced that they would cut 7,000 jobs over the next three months (roughly 10% of the workforce of 78,000). The company said that cuts will be made in support functions, in regional management and in its UK stores, "reflecting the fact that the change has been felt throughout the business." [66]

In November 2020, M&S reported its first loss in 94 years, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the six months to 26 September 2020, the company announced a pre-tax loss of £87.6m compared to profits of £158.8m in the same period of 2019. [67] By May 2021, the profit for the full year was expected to be £43m, compared to £403m in 2019–2020. [68]

On 26 May 2021, the company announced plans to close another 30 shops over the next 10 years as part of its turnaround plan. [69]

Head office locations Edit

The headquarters of M&S had been since 1957 at Michael House, 55 Baker Street, London. This had formerly been the Baker Street Bazaar which had been destroyed in a fire in 1940. The site was redeveloped by M&S, under the direction of the then Sir Simon Marks, as the company had outgrown its previous Bayswater HQ. [70] In 2004, the company moved to a new headquarters designed by mossessian & partners at Waterside House, in the new Paddington Basin, London. [71]

As well as the main offices in London, there are a number of other head office sites across the UK Stockley Park (IT Services), Salford Quays (Marks & Spencer Shared Services Ltd. which provides human resources, and finance administration) [72] [73] and Chester (HSBC's M&S Money and Retail Customer Services). [74]

The company has overseas sourcing offices in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, China, Ireland, Italy, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. [75]

Financial performance Edit

Financial performance has been as follows: [1]

Until 1999 M&S's financial year ended on 31 March. Since then, the company has changed to reporting for 52- or 53-week periods, ending on variable dates.

Year ended Turnover (£ M) Profit before tax (£ M) Net profit (£ M) Basic eps (p)
28 March 2020 10,181.9 67.2 27.4 1.3
30 March 2019 10,377.3 523.2 37.3 2.1
31 March 2018 10,698.2 580.9 29.1 1.6
1 April 2017 10,622.0 613.8 115.7 7.2
2 April 2016 10,555.4 488.8 404.4 24.9
28 March 2015 10,311.4 600.0 481.7 29.7
29 March 2014 10,309.7 580.4 506.0 32.5
30 March 2013 10,026.8 564.3 458.0 29.2
31 March 2012 9,934.3 658.0 489.6 32.5
2 April 2011 9,740.3 780.6 598.6 38.8
3 April 2010 9,536.6 702.7 523.0 33.5
28 March 2009 9,062.1 706.2 506.8 32.3
29 March 2008 9,022.0 1,129.1 821.0 49.2
31 March 2007 8,588.1 936.7 659.9 39.1
1 April 2006 7,797.7 745.7 520.6 36.4
2 April 2005 7,490.5 505.1 355.0 29.1
3 April 2004 8,301.5 781.6 452.3 24.2
29 March 2003 8,019.1 677.5 480.5 20.7
30 March 2002 8,135.4 335.9 153.0 5.4
31 March 2001 8,075.7 145.5 2.8 0.0
1 April 2000 8,195.5 417.5 258.7 9.0
31 March 1999 8,224.0 546.1 372.1 13.0
31 March 1998 8,243.3 1,155.0 815.9 28.6
31 March 1997 7,841.9 1,129.1 746.6 26.7
31 March 1996 7,233.7 965.8 652.6 455.8

Social and environmental policy Edit

"Look Behind the Label" Edit

In 2006, the Look Behind the Label marketing campaign was introduced. [76] The aim of this campaign was to highlight to customers the various ethical and environmentally friendly aspects of the production and sourcing methods engaged in by M&S including: Fairtrade products, sustainable fishing and environmentally friendly textile dyes. All coffee and tea sold in M&S stores is now Fairtrade. [77] In addition, the company offers clothing lines made from Fairtrade cotton in selected departments. [78]

On 15 January 2007, M&S launched an initiative, known as "Plan A", [79] to dramatically increase the environmental sustainability of the business within five years and expected to cost £200 million. [80]

The plan covers "100 commitments over five years to address the key social and environmental challenges facing M&S today and in the future" with the tag-line "Because there is no Plan B". The commitments span five themes: climate change, waste, sustainable raw materials, 'fair partnership' and health, [79] with the aim that, by 2012, it will: [81]

  • Become carbon neutral
  • Send no waste to landfill
  • Extend sustainable sourcing
  • Help improve the lives of people in their supply chain
  • Help customers and employees live a healthier life-style

Despite an 18% fall in the share price in January 2008, following publication of their latest trading statement, the company confirmed that they would be continuing with the plan, saying that there were 'compelling commercial — as well as moral — reasons to do so'. [82]

M&S introduced a reusable hessian bag in 2007 as part of the plan, aiming to reduce the number of plastic bags used within five years. This was followed in May 2008 by the introduction of a 5p charge for standard sized carrier bags used for food purchases (before this charge became compulsory). [79] [83] All profits from the sale of food bags originally went to the charity Groundwork UK [84] M&S launched the "Forever Fish" campaign in June 2011 and switched funding to that campaign to promote protection of marine wildlife in the UK. [85]

In becoming carbon neutral the company has committed to use carbon offsetting only as a last resort, [86] restricted to cases "where it is required by government or where the technology for green air or road transport will not be available for the foreseeable future". [87]

As of August 2008, M&S had three wind turbines in operation, one at Methlick and two near Strichen, generating enough power to supply three stores via the National Grid. [88] In April 2009 the company began purchasing 2.6 TWh of renewable energy (wind and hydroelectric) from Npower, enough to power all Marks & Spencer stores and offices in England and Wales. [89]

In 2012 the company was awarded European Business Award for the Environment (Management category) by the European Union for Plan A. [90]

Charity work Edit

M&S has sold a wide range of charitable women's clothes for Breakthrough Breast Cancer [91] for many years and the Ashbourne store collected a total of £2,000 for a local Derbyshire hospital's new ECG machine in 2010. [92] In 2011 M&S launch Oxfam's clothes recycling initiative. [93]

In 2015, M&S partnered with community investment platform Neighbourly to help them distribute unsold surplus food and non-food items to small charities and community groups in the UK and Ireland. [94] [95] In March 2020, M&S made a £100,000 donation to the Neighbourly Community Fund and a £100,000 donation to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal to help communities through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. [96]

Senior management Edit

The following have served as the Chairman of the company since it was founded:

  • 1884–1907: Michael Marks (set up first stall in Leeds in 1884)
  • 1907–1916: William Chapman [97]
  • 1916–1964: Simon Marks (Lord Marks)
  • 1964–1967: Israel Sieff (Lord Sieff)
  • 1967–1972: Edward Sieff
  • 1972–1984: Marcus Sieff (Lord Sieff)
  • 1984–1991: Derek Rayner (Lord Rayner)
  • 1991–1999: Sir Richard Greenbury
  • 2000–2004: Luc Vandevelde
  • 2004–2006: Paul Myners
  • 2006–2009: Lord Burns
  • 2009–2011: Sir Stuart Rose
  • 2011–2017: Robert Swannell
  • 2017–present: Archie Norman[98]

UK and Ireland Edit

The largest shop is at Marble Arch, on Oxford Street in London, which has around 16,000 square metres (170,000 sq ft) of shop floor. The second largest is in Cheshire Oaks, Ellesmere Port, which is the largest outside of London. [99] The third largest shop is at the Gemini Retail Park in Warrington. In 1999 M&S opened its shop in Manchester's Exchange Square, which was destroyed in the 1996 Manchester bombing and rebuilt. At re-opening, it was the largest M&S shop with 23,000 m 2 (250,000 sq ft) of retail space, but half was subsequently sold to Selfridges, the company's second site in Manchester. The smallest branch is a 'Marks & Spencer Penny Bazaar' clearance outlet located in the Grainger Market in Newcastle upon Tyne. [100]

M&S has opened a number of stores at out of town locations since the trend to build shopping centres away from town centres became popular in the 1980s. The first was at the MetroCentre, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, which opened in 1986. Another notable example is the store at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre at Brierley Hill, West Midlands. This store opened on 23 October 1990 shortly after the closure of stores in the nearby town centres of Dudley and West Bromwich the Merry Hill store was not originally intended to replace these two town centre stores, but both the Dudley and West Bromwich stores had experienced a downturn in trade as the opening of the Merry Hill store loomed, and both stores were closed on 25 August 1990. [101]

Before Christmas 2006, twenty-two M&S shops were open for 24-hour trading including stores at Bolton, Middlebrook and at the Abbey Centre, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland. [102] [103]

The company's website has received criticism for having its prices in Pound sterling and not in euro, and for providing a search for its Irish stores through a "UK Store Finder". [104] The Irish Times pointed out that M&S failed to explain why the company is in a position to deliver goods ordered from its website to Brazil, Argentina, Iraq and Afghanistan but not to Ireland. M&S did not comment. [105]

International Edit

The company reopened its store in Paris on 24 November 2011, following the launch of a new French website on 11 October 2011. [106] In the Philippines there are 18 M&S shops, the largest of which is located in Greenbelt Mall. A new store opened on 17 April 2013 in Kalverstraat in Amsterdam, Netherlands, more than 10 years after closure of the previous store. On 17 September 2013 the British ambassador to the Netherlands, Sir Geoffrey Adams, opened the first Dutch Marks & Spencer Food pilot store at a BP petrol station in Bijleveld beside the A12 motorway. [107] [108] There are over 300 stores in some 40 overseas locations. [109]

On 11 November 2013, Marks & Spencer announced "that it is set to have about 80 stores open in the region by 2016 as part of its strategy to become a leading international, multichannel retailer" with partner Reliance Retail. [110] It opened a flagship store in Bandra in Mumbai. [110] M&S sales of lingerie accounts for more than a fifth of the sales in the Indian market, with total lingerie sales increasing by a third during the last six months of 2013. [110] In May 2014 Marks & Spencer announced that their intention was now to open 100 stores in the country by 2016. [111]

In the Netherlands, as of 2015, M&S had a supermarket in the expensive Kalverstraat shopping street in Amsterdam, as well as a larger store including clothing in The Hague. A number of BP petrol stations in the Western area of the Netherlands included M&S convenience food stores. [112] In 2016, M&S was due to open a much larger store in Amsterdam, with a direct underground link to a new metro station. [113] However, in November 2016 the company announced that they were closing all of their stores on the European mainland, something that did not actually happen. Nevertheless, they closed both of their stores in the Netherlands. [114]

Marks & Spencer owns 47 stores in Turkey as of 2021. [115]

Full line stores Edit

M&S core shops typically feature a selection of the company's clothing, homeware and beauty ranges and an M&S FOODHALL. The range of clothing sold and the space given to it depends on the location and customer demographic (an example would be that some London shops do not stock the Classic Collection, but stock Limited Edition and a full Autograph range). All full line shops feature a Food hall. The current store format was designed by Urban Salon Architects in 2009. [116]

Foodhall (in-store) Edit

All the St Michael Food hall supermarkets were renamed M&S Food hall when Marks & Spencer dropped the St Michael brand in 2003. Each M&S Foodhall sells groceries, which historically were all under the Marks & Spencer brand. However, in 2006 the company began selling a limited range of other brands, such as Coca-Cola and Stella Artois, without reducing the number of M&S goods they sold. This marked the first time in its 125-year history that Marks & Spencer had sold any brands other than its own. [117]

M&S introduced self-checkout tills in the food-halls of a small number of trial stores in 2002. Self-checkout was implemented in the general merchandise sections in three trial stores in 2006. [118]

In 2019, M&S launched five new Food renewal stores. This was part of the transformation of the Food business, led by Managing Director Stuart Machin, to have bigger Food stores with "the mind of a supermarket and the soul of a fresh market". [119]

Home stores Edit

In 2007, M&S announced that new, dedicated shops for home furnishings were to be launched. Shops have now been opened in Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, Tunbridge Wells in Kent, Lisburn Sprucefield in Northern Ireland [120] and in the Barton Square section of The Trafford Centre, Manchester. [121]

Outlet stores Edit

M&S have 30 outlet stores. The outlet division offers M&S products with the majority of them discounting at least 30% from the original selling price. [122] The first of these stores opened at Ashford in Kent in 2000. Many of the Outlet shops are in locations such as retail parks and outlet centres, though some are not, including the shop in Woolwich, South London. [123]

M&S Foodhall (standalone) Edit

M&S launched a convenience format, branded Simply Food in 2001, with the first stores opening in Twickenham and Surbiton. The stores predominantly sell food, however some larger stores also stock a small selection of general merchandise. [124]

A number of these are run under franchise agreements:

    runs the stores at mainline railway stations and airports. [125] has stores at 45 of its motorway service stations. [126] has over 120 petrol stations with Simply Food offerings. [127]

Orders from M&S accounted for more than half of Uniq's food product supplies to UK retailers in 2010 after several years service as a major M&S food product supplier. [128]

In 2011 it was noted that M&S were operating express pricing i.e., charging more in their Simply Food branches than in regular branches. A spokesperson stated that "prices are a little higher than at our high street stores but this reflects the fact that these stores are open longer and are highly convenient for customers on the move". [129]

The Simply Food brand has been phased out in all stand-alone larger stores since the rebrand in 2015 and the stores have now been branded as "M&S Foodhall." [130]

In March 2019 M&S announced that they would open more supermarket sized food halls (between 10,000 and 15,000 sq ft.) that would stock their full food range in order to attract more families looking to do a weekly shop. M&S also lowered the price of over 1000 of their popular lines to compete with their larger supermarket rivals such as Tesco and Sainsbury's. [131]

Online services Edit

Online food deliveries began with trials in 2017. [132] In 2019 M&S bought 50% of Ocado Retail Ltd, and since 2020 [133] customers are directed to Ocado's website where they can order food and selected clothing items. [134]

The online flower service was accused of unfair trading and using Google to piggy-back advertise on online searches aimed at Interflora online in 2010. [135]

In addition to the main retail business, M&S partners with other companies to provide additional M&S-branded services:

    – financial services and credit products, operated by HSBC UK[136]
  • M&S Energy – domestic gas and electricity supply, operated by Octopus Energy[137]
  • M&S Opticians – operated by Owl Optical [138]

The "St Michael" brand was introduced by Simon Marks in 1928 in honour of his father and co-founder of Marks & Spencer, Michael Marks. By 1950, virtually all goods were sold under the St Michael brand. M&S lingerie, women's clothing and girls' uniform were branded under the St Margaret brand, until the whole range of general merchandise became St Michael. [24] Marks & Spencer were selling clothes under the St Margaret and St Michael label by the mid-1950s and launched their school uniforms in the early 1950s. [24]

The synthetic fibre Tricell was first used in 1957 and lasted until the 1970s. [24] and another synthetic fibre called Courtelle was first launched, nationally, by Marks & Spencer during 1960 and also lasted well into the 1970s. [24] Machine washable wool first appeared in 1972 and Lycra hosiery first came in during 1986. [24]

"Per Una" was launched on 28 September 2001 as a joint venture between M&S and Next founder George Davies with the contribution of Julie Strang. The Per Una brand has been a major success for the company, [139] and in October 2004, M&S bought the brand in a £125 million, two-year service contract with George Davies. [140] Mr Davies was to stay on for at least two years to run the company, with 12 months notice required if he wished to leave. [139] [140]

In 2004, Sir Stuart Rose axed a number of brands including the menswear brand "SP Clothing", the "View From" sportswear range, the David Beckham children's range "DB07" and several food lines as he thought the company's stock inventory management had become 'too complicated'. [141] A version of Per Una aimed at teenagers, "Per Una Due", was also discontinued, despite having launched earlier in the year, owing to poor sales. [142]

The company also began to sell branded goods like Kellogg's Corn Flakes in November 2008. [8] Following a review by Marc Bolland in 2011, M&S confirmed it would begin to reduce the number of branded items on sale, instead offering only those that it did not have an M&S alternative for. [143]

In January 2021, Marks & Spencer purchased the Jaeger fashion brand from its administrators. The £5 million deal was part of the firm's strategy to boost its clothing division with new names. However, it did not include Jaeger's 63 shops and 13 concessions. [144]

New logo Edit

During the height of the company's troubles at the beginning of the 21st century, the St Michael brand used as the selling label for all M&S products was discontinued in favour of Marks & Spencer and a new logo in the Optima typeface was introduced and began to appear in place of St Michael on product packaging. The same logo was also applied to store fascias and carrier bags. The St Michael name was subsequently adopted as a 'quality guarantee' and appeared as the St Michael Quality Promise on the back of food products, on the side of delivery vehicles and on in-store ordering receipts. [145]

Your M&S Edit

When Steve Sharp joined as marketing director in 2004, after being hired by new Chief Executive Sir Stuart Rose, he introduced a new promotional brand under the Your M&S banner, with a corresponding logo. [146]

High-profile media campaigns Edit

M&S has always run newspaper and/or magazine advertisements since the early 1950s, but the introduction of some famous stars such as Twiggy [147] [148] and David Jason in various TV ads has helped raise the company's profile. Twiggy first appeared in 1967, returning later in 1995 and 2005. Anne Grierson [24] first featured in advertisements during the late 1950s and most of the 1960s. In later years, Erin O'Connor, [147] Myleene Klass, [147] David Beckham, [24] Antonio Banderas, [24] Claudia Schiffer, [24] Helena Christensen, [24] Tatjana Patitz, [24] Lisa Snowdon, Dannii Minogue, V V Brown and Carmen Kass have also featured in a few advertisements, along with many others. [24] John Sergeant, David Jason and Joanna Lumley have either appeared in or voiced over advertisements since 2008. [24]

The new look has been instrumental in the company's recent resurgence, particularly with the success of a new clothing campaign featuring the celebrated model, Twiggy, and younger models associated with the bohemian styles of 2005–2006, and the new TV ad campaign for its food range. These advertisements have the tag-line "This is not just food, this is M&S food" and feature slow motion, close-up footage of various food products, described in a sultry voice-over by Dervla Kirwan, to an enticing instrumental song — including Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross" as well as Santana's "Samba Pa Ti", Olly Murs' "Busy", Groove Armada's "At the River" or Spandau Ballet's "True". These advertisements have been referred to by some sections of the media as being food porn, with a number of other companies copying the idea, such as Aldi and, subsequently, Waitrose. [149]

The 2009 TV advertising campaign drew complaints, leading to national press coverage, regarding sexism. [150]

In 2010, it was confirmed that Dannii Minogue would be one of the new faces of Marks & Spencer. She filmed her first commercial in South Africa, which featured Cheryl Lynn's "Got to Be Real", for their Spring campaign that aired on 24 March. [151] Dannii Minogue travelled to Miami, Florida in January 2011 to shoot the commercial for M&S for the 2011 Spring collection, prior to her contractual termination. In August 2011, M&S announced the new faces of their campaigns would be Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Ryan Reynolds and David Gandy. [152]

Marks & Spencer dropped a series of planned television adverts in the July 2011, featuring Twiggy, Dannii Minogue and VV Brown as it started its corporate image revamp. It confirmed that Twiggy, Lisa Snowden and Jamie Redknapp would return for future advertising. [153]

On 31 March 2014, M&S launched the new iteration of its 'Leading Ladies' marketing campaign featuring figures including Emma Thompson, Annie Lennox, Rita Ora and Baroness Lawrence. [154]

Anti-Israel protests Edit

Owing to a mistaken belief that the store is owned by Jews, [155] Marks & Spencer has been repeatedly targeted and boycotted by anti-Israel protestors during the Arab League boycott of Israel. [156] [157] In 2014, it was reported that the Marble Arch branch was picketed weekly by protesters objecting to the sale of Israeli goods. [158]

Comprehensive Spending Review Edit

In October 2010, chairman Sir Stuart Rose was a signatory to a controversial letter to The Daily Telegraph [159] which claimed that "The private sector should be more than capable of generating additional jobs to replace those lost in the public sector, and the redeployment of people to more productive activities will improve economic performance, so generating more employment opportunities", despite recent job cuts of 1,000 staff. [160]

Contactless payment issues Edit

Some Marks & Spencer customers claim that the chain's contactless payment terminals have taken money from cards other than the ones intended for payment. Contactless cards are supposed to be within about 4 cm of the front of the terminal to work. M&S investigated the incident and confirmed the new system had been extensively tested and was robust. It had recently rolled out the contactless payments system, provided by Visa Europe, to 644 UK stores. [161]

Muslim checkout-staff policy Edit

In December 2013, Marks & Spencer announced that Muslim checkout staff in the UK could refuse to sell pork products or alcohol to customers at their till. [162] The policy was announced after at least one news outlet reported that customers waiting with goods that included pork or alcohol were refused service, and were told by a Muslim checkout worker to wait until another till became available. [163] The policy applied across all 703 UK M&S stores and prompted a strong backlash by customers. [164]

A company spokesman subsequently apologised and stated that they will attempt to reassign staff whose beliefs may impact their work to different departments, such as clothing. [165]

Hijab as school uniform Edit

Marks & Spencer introduced a hijab in its section of school uniforms in late 2018 and subsequently faced a backlash and boycott from some customers the product is stocked for girls as young as three. [166]

Holly Willoughby Edit

In September 2018, Holly Willoughby became the company new brand ambassador along with her 'Must Have' collection which launched on 27 September 2018. However the company failed to order sufficient stock and large quantities of customers were left disappointed. [167]

St. Michael marks history

St. Michael Church in Fairfield, Ky., which is celebrating its 225th anniversary this year, dedicated historical markers on Sept. 17 that mark the original location of the historic parish and the parish cemetery. The markers note that St. Michael was the parish home of Mother Catherine Spalding, foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and that Father Stephen Badin, the first priest ordained in the U.S., was the first priest to serve the parish. St. Michael will celebrate its 225th anniversary with Mass on Oct 1 at 11 a.m. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will preside. (Photo Special to The Record)

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The Record newspaper is published by the Archdiocese of Louisville and covers the Catholic community of Central Kentucky. It was established in 1879.

Michael Marks

Businessman. A co-founder of Marks and Spencer merchandizing chain, he was born in Slonim, Russia and came as a penniless refugee from the anti-Semitic pogroms there to Stockton-on-Tees in 1881. Starting with a peddler’s tray he followed fairs and markets hawking his wares until 1884 when he was lent five pounds by Isaac Dewhirst that enabled him to set up a trestle stall in an open market at Leeds. Within ten years he was operating eight penny bazaars. He still used the wording he had on his peddler’s tray: "Don't Ask the Price - It's a Penny:" a marketing phrase that he kept for many years, originated to solve his language problem. He went into partnership in 1894 with Tom Spencer, who had been Dewhirst's cashier. With continued success he was living a happy family life in Manchester when he died suddenly of a heart attack on New Year's Eve. He had married Hannah Cohen in 1886 and his son Simon, later to become Lord Mark's of Broughton, fought successfully to keep the business in the family.

About מיכאל מרקס (עברית)

co-founder of the British retail chain Marks & Spencer

Businessman. A co-founder of Marks and Spencer merchandizing chain, he was born in Slonim, Russia and came as a penniless refugee from the anti-Semitic pogroms there to Stockton-on-Tees in 1881. Starting with a peddler’s tray he followed fairs and markets hawking his wares until 1884 when he was lent five pounds by Isaac Dewhirst that enabled him to set up a trestle stall in an open market at Leeds. Within ten years he was operating eight penny bazaars. He still used the wording he had on his peddler’s tray: "Don't Ask the Price - It's a Penny:" a marketing phrase that he kept for many years, originated to solve his language problem. He went into partnership in 1894 with Tom Spencer, who had been Dewhirst's cashier. With continued success he was living a happy family life in Manchester when he died suddenly of a heart attack on New Year's Eve. He had married Hannah Cohen in 1886 and his son Simon, later to become Lord Mark's of Broughton, fought successfully to keep the business in the family.

Michael Marks - History

Recreated 1930s shopfront in Bekonscot model village.
Image courtesy of Michael Maggs CC-BY-SA-2.5

The story of the two men who founded the famous store.

Marks and Spencer is one of the UK's leading retail brands. It has 1,382 stores in over 30 countries and in 2016 had a group revenue opf £10.4bn. Yet this company had its humble beginnings at a market stall where Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer sold items for a penny.

In the early 1880s the persecution of Jews in the Polish part of the Russia Empire (now part of Belarus) led to Michael Marks emigrating to England, the exact date is not known.

He settled in Leeds where there was a Jewish community. He struck a deal with a wholesale merchant and sold simple goods such as needles, cottons, pins and sewing accessories, door to door.

By 1884 he had sufficient funds to start a market stall, a penny bazaar, in Kirkgate, Leeds. Everything was sold for a penny: all types of items from collar studs to nails, and from luggage labels to spoons. The sales slogan of "Don't Ask The Price, It's A Penny" summed up the business model. Marks was selling at a time when the wages of the working man were beginning to improve and they had the money to spend on items other than food.

He married Hannah Cohen in Leeds in 1886, she was also an emigrant from the same area of Russia. By 1891 they were living with their two children and his brother-in-law at Great George Street, Wigan. He described himself as a 'smallwear dealer'.

He opened a number of other stalls in neighbouring towns and by 1893 he was able to move to a house at Cheetham Hill, Manchester. The shop below was opened a year later. This was the start of the move from temporary stalls to permanent shops and covered markets.

Recognising the need for help if the business was to expand, in 1894 he was introduced to Thomas Spencer. Spencer was born in Skipton, Yorkshire, in 1852. After serving his apprenticeship as a draper, he went onto be a draper's manager and a cashier. Marks would benefit from his experience in bookkeeping and his considerable number of business contacts. Spencer's private life was tinged with sadness as his first wife died in 1891, but he remarried in 1892.

With the capital of £753 invested in the business, the partnership flourished with new shops being opened and their own warehouse built in Derby Street, Manchester. In 1903 the partnerships went public. On incorporation the business was registered to "carry on bazaars in Manchester and elsewhere". It was worth £3000 and had at least 36 shops.

Shortly after, having established the foundations of a good business, both men retired from the company and their sons took over the business. Thomas Spencer died in 1905 and Michael Marks in 1907.

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Michael Marks - History

The period of 1884-1900

Marks & Spencer started life more than 125 years ago when the Jewish immigrant Michael Marks came to the north of England. He began as a pedlar he soon owned a market stall in Kirkgate Market in Leeds. He classified everything by price, but quickly stopped selling more expensive items when the penny section thrived. Michael decided to look for a partner to help manage his growing business. He initially approached Isaac Dewhirst, who had loaned him money towards his original start up costs. Isaac declined but recommended Tom Spencer - his senior cashier. Tom agreed, and on the 28th of September 1884 Marks & Spencer was born.

Michael moved home, to 20 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester. In the following year he opened a shop in the lower part of the same building. Early Marks and Spencer shops often had signs outside saying "Admission Free" to encourage customers to come in and browse.

Tom Spencer invested 300pound and brought considerable skills in administration and accounts, which complimented Michael Mark's flair for merchandise, selling and dealing with the people extremely well. Together they created a history that's Marks & Spencer today.

Mark & Spencer called their new stores "Penny Bazaar", keeping the penny price slogan and adding the words "Admission free". This was a successful marketing ploy, encouraging customers to browse without any obligation to buy the products. Whilst this is the norm now, it was unheard of then. By the turn of the century Marks & Spencer had expanded to include 36 Penny Bazaars and 12 High Street shops.

The period of 1900-1920:

This was a period of great change: M&S bought up a number of our competitors, as well as becoming a public company, the original founders both died, and a legal battle ended with Simon Marks eventually regaining control of the company from Tom Spencer's executor.

In 1901, Marks & Spencer built a warehouse at Derby Street, Manchester. It was first property built to its specifications and became the Company's first registered address and headquarters. It was ready for a period of growth that led to M&S having 145 stores by 1915.

Improving the living conditions and rising incomes meant that people were able to buy more of the things they needed from emerging department stores and co-ops. Marks & Spencer catered to this with open displays, browsing and self-selection. And its early stores offered shopping that was cheap, simple and friendly. Marks & Spencer also sold biscuits, mending wools, pins, combs, needles, socks - and in the days before TV or radio - sheet music.

The Penny pricing continued with great appeal until the First World War, when goods became expensive and hard to get. This changed the way Marks & Spencer worked for good.

The period of 1920-1940

In the decades between the wars, Britain moved into the Great Depression. There were shortages of goods, unemployment was nearly 3 million and many companies closed. However, it
was the period that sharpened the business and helped M&S focus and strengthen its strong foundations.

M&S was now facing competition from affordable variety stores. Adapting to keep ahead of the game it changed the pricing system, now selling goods up to 5 shillings. Marks & Spencer also reduced the dazzling array of items offered, placing emphasis on two departments: food, which M&S had always sold to some extent, and clothing, which was new.

Marks & Spencer carved a niche in the market by simply being unique it offered clothing that was well made but affordable. M&S was the first retailer to have a research laboratory to pre-test the quality of goods and develop innovative new fabrics. Higher quality at lower prices proved very successful.

As more houses were built, the demand for affordable household goods grew. So items like tea sets, and domestic chores were jazzed up with bright, art deco jumpsuits and were sold at Marks & Spencer.

This period really saw the products offered by M&S blend in with the changing lifestyles of its clientele.

The period of 1940-1950

The outbreak of war brought with it rationing, as well as enemy bombing which hit over 100 Marks & Spencer stores, destroying 16 entirely. Marks & Spencer did its share of work during the war days through practical innovations and the invaluable efforts of its employees, who took part in fire watching, raised money for a Spitfire, set up soup kitchens and helped to care for wounded soldiers.

At the beginning of the war 70% of Britain's food was imported from across the sea. U-boat attacks quickly cut off this supply and by 1940 rationing was introduced for lots of food, beginning with bacon, butter and sugar.

At Marks& Spencer food was sometimes solid straight from the delivery trucks in order to keep hungry and impatient crowds calm. As rationing didn't apply to restaurants, people began to eat out more, and by 1942 we had created 82 Café Bars in store.

Restrictions Orders meant clothing was also designed to make the most of material. Here M&S could share its skill at achieving the highest quality for the lowest price. Harry Atkinson, who was a Marks & Spencer technologist, helped the government develop clothing standards. The result was utility clothing, which could be brightly patterned but was very simple in design.

The period of 1950-1960

Rationing continued, but there was a positive side. It had shown people that fashion wasn't just for the rich, but was accessible to everyone. And it also had to be practical - to wash well and last longer. In response, Marks & Spencer put a lot of effort into improving products as well as experimenting with new technologies and fabrics.

Marks & Spencer took man-made fabric which was created in the war and made it into a popular line of dresses influenced by Parisian designers. This fabric was known as Utility Schedule 1005 in wartime, but was now renamed Marspun.

By 1955 fashion finally had the chance to rebel against the harsh conditions of the war years. The New Look dress was based upon the ‘Corolle' collection by Christian Dior, and became very popular. It used a lavish amount of material and went against al the utility clothing regulations.

Marks & Spencer in the year 1957 decided to improve the sizing for ready-to-wear clothes (like tailored ‘super-fit' nylon stockings). A lot research and survey went in to this venture of M&S.

The period of 1960-1970

&Spencer not only created these modern new products but also got them from the laboratory to the store shelved rapidly. The customers of Marks & Spencer had the very latest innovations on a bigger scale than ever before.

M&S innovations included new products made from the man-made fabric Terylene. A type of polyester, it was very popular because it was so practical and hardwearing.

By the end of 1960s M&S was thinking up safe ways of selling dairy products and meats, beginning with chicken. Most stores at the times sold their poultry frozen because of the risks of bacteria causing food poisoning. But M&S believed customers wanted fresh products and began to explore safe ways of selling chilled, rather than frozen, meat.

In order to keep meat fresh M&S invented the ‘cold-chain' process. Chickens were chilled straight after slaughter, carried in refrigerated trucks, kept in refrigerated storage, and sold from refrigerated counters - all at 4 degrees centigrade. The entire cold-chain process, developed with our suppliers, was specially made to our own design, and was unique at the time.

The period of 1970-1990

By the early 1970s, home freezers were becoming cheaper and more easily available so in 1972 we introduced frozen food including lasagnes and pizzas.

By 1973 convenience food was being sold in 100 Marks & Spencer stores and was a huge hit with the public, later helping to explain the popularity of the microwave. With each meal our Catering Department decided on a recipe idea and then worked with our suppliers to create it.

Also in 1973, we were the first major retailer to introduce sell-by dates as a guarantee of freshness. A year later Indian and Chinese meals were first trialled, although they didn't really take off until the 1980s. Marks & Spencer was the first major British retailer to provide these dishes, which are now a big part of our national cuisine.

From the mid-1970s suppliers slowly became more involved in design. Marks & Spencer now gave guidelines on up-to-the-minute trends, and Design Briefs were introduced in 1986. Brian Godbold, Head of Design, described the brief as a buyer's ‘bible'. Lingerie became more fashionable in the 1980s and even thermals were given a fashion ‘edge'. Co-ordinated underwear sets created ‘looks' inspired by catwalk trends.

The period of 1990-Now

Marks & Spencer now has to create improved products and get them to its customers faster than the rivals.

The melting middle chocolate pudding idea came from the food developer at M&S Elaine Kessler. Based on chocolate fondant, a classic French dessert, no other big retailer had ever managed to make it before, and it took 3 times long to create as usual. The trouble was its liquid center. It had to survive storage and transportation without soaking into the outside sponge. It took a lot of time, trials and chocolate to get it right but it proved to be a massive success.

In the clothes department new more exciting lines like per una and Autograph appeared with the help of famous names like Patricia Fields, George Davies and Paul Smith. Collaborations are still keeping Marks & Spencer at the cutting edge of fashion.

Marks & Spencer's 100-point eco-plan will affect every aspect of M&S from in store heating to product labeling, and from waste management to manufacturing. The guiding principles of Quality, Value, Service, Innovation and Trust are now mirrored by the five points of Plan A that target climate change, waste, sustainable raw materials, fair partnerships and health.

Marks & Spencer has envisioned a 100-point eco-plan. It will be the modern expression of how the business is done at M&S. From encouraging healthy eating to creating fair partnerships and using sustainable raw materials from managing waste and recycling to becoming carbon neural - M&S wants to continue making a difference.


Public Company
Incorporated: 1894
Employees: 68,208
Sales: £7.84 billion (US $12.84 billion) (1997)
Stock Exchanges: London
Ticker Symbol: MASPY
SICs: 5311 Department Stores 5411 Grocery Stores 5611 Men's & Boys' Clothing & Accessory Stores 5621 Women's Clothing Stores 6091 Nondeposit Trust Facilities 6159 Miscellaneous Business Credit Institutions 6552 Land Subdividers & Developers, Except Cemeteries

Company Perspectives:

Marks & Spencer's unique retailing formula is proving successful in an increasing number of markets around the world. Our strategy is to accelerate expansion overseas while continuing to exploit the many opportunities for growth here in the U.K.

Marks and Spencer p.l.c. is the largest retailer in the United Kingdom, with nearly 300 company-owned Marks & Spencer (M&S) stores in its home market. The stores sell clothing, footwear, gifts, home furnishings, and food, with many of these items sold under M&S's private-label St Michael brand. The company also owns and operates nearly 100 additional Marks & Spencer stores in Europe, Hong Kong, and Canada, and franchises 85 Marks & Spencer stores in Europe, the Far East, Australia, the Middle East, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. Marks and Spencer also owns the Brooks Brothers chain of men's clothing stores, which consists of more than 170 units in the United States and Japan, and the 20-store, New Jersey-based Kings Super Markets grocery store chain. The fast-growing Marks and Spencer Financial Services unit offers its customers credit cards, personal loans, life insurance, and savings, investment, and pension plans. About 17 percent of Marks and Spencer's revenues are generated outside the United States.

In 1894 Michael Marks, born in 1859 in a Jewish ghetto at Slonim in the Russian Polish province of Grodno, entered into a partnership with Tom Spencer, born in Skipton, Yorkshire, in 1851, with Spencer paying £300 for his half-share. Ten years earlier, Marks, a peddler, had opened his first stall on a trestle table in Leeds market, selling a range of cheap goods all priced at one penny, including hair pins, dolly dyes, and black lead he is said to have paid 18 pence for the privilege. Tom Spencer, cashier for Leeds textile wholesaler Isaac Jowitt Dewhirst, was an experienced bookkeeper, and Dewhirst had helped Marks by teaching him English and providing him with small loans.

By 1894 Marks had moved house from Leeds and, after living in Wigan, had settled in Manchester, where he acquired a shop and a home. He also had opened market stalls--bazaars, he called them--in several towns, including Warrington, Bolton, and Birkenhead. The new partnership immediately looked further afield to Birmingham and Newcastle and in 1899 to London. Manchester, however, remained the headquarters, and the first Marks and Spencer warehouse was opened there in 1897. In 1903 the partnership was converted into a limited company with £30,000 in £1 ordinary shares of which 14,996 each were allotted to Marks and to Spencer, the latter retiring in 1905. Upon Marks's sudden death in 1907, his executor, William Chapman, a self-made handkerchief manufacturer, became the dominating force in the business.

In each of the first Marks and Spencer bazaars the slogan had been "Don't ask the price, it's a penny," but this selling policy soon changed. It was a landmark date in 1904 when a new store in a shopping arcade was opened in Leeds not far from Marks's first market trestle table. Two years later the most successful store was Liverpool, with yearly receipts of £9,857. Brixton was second with £9,766. Leeds came third with £8,701 and Manchester fourth with £8,459. In 1907 profits reached a new peak of £8,668 and the dividend paid was 20 percent.

Marks's son Simon acquired his first allocation of shares in April 1907, eight months before his father's death, and from the start he was determined to acquire full control over what he conceived of as a family business. It was not until 1916, however, that he ousted Chapman and became chairman. By then the company had expanded significantly its turnover in 1913 was already £355,000. In addition, it had successfully braved World War I. In 1915, a year of bitter boardroom battles--concerned not with management policy but with financial control--its turnover was more than £400,000, and a dividend of 50 percent was paid. By then there were 145 branch stores, only ten of them in market halls. No fewer than 56 were in the London area. Some of them had been bought in clusters from existing chains.

Simon Marks and Israel Sieff Took Over in the 1910s

Simon Marks, a man of intelligence and drive, in effect entered into his own partnership in 1915 when his close friend Israel Sieff, keenly aware of world trends both in politics and in science, joined the board after having been blocked previously by Chapman. In 1916 Marks won a lawsuit against Chapman, and in June 1917 Chapman resigned. The firm's initials M and S now stood symbolically for Marks and Sieff. The two friends had first met in Manchester, and each was to marry the other's sister. If their talents were complementary, their vision was shared, and it was a vision that extended far beyond the confines of the business. Succession seemed natural in 1964, when on Simon's death, Israel became chairman, to be succeeded in 1967 by his son Marcus, who like Simon Marks and Israel, became a peer.

In 1926 the company, needing an injection of cash, had been converted into a public company to raise new capital, fully supported by the Prudential Assurance Company, which played a key role in the negotiations. The capital consisted initially of one million ordinary shares of ten shillings each, £330,000 of which were issued, and 350,000 cumulative participating preference shares at £1. There were to be further appeals to the public in 1929 and 1934, when the nominal value of the capital of the company was raised to £3.05 million. The new A shares issued then carried no voting rights. Indeed, there was to be a sharp distinction between management and ownership until 1966, when Israel Sieff concluded that the granting of voting rights was by then "in line with the enlightened policy which governs our business."

Marks hoped in 1934 that in the future there would be "an ample margin of working capital" for management to promote a substantial development program that included the purchase of properties as well as store building, and the hope was fulfilled. Already by 1930 approximately four-fifths of the new company's assets consisted of freehold and leasehold properties, and between 1931--a year of international depression--and 1939 no fewer than 162 new stores were built or rebuilt, all on inner-city sites. On the eve of World War II, Marks placed more emphasis on replacement of old premises by new than on an increase in the number of stores in itself. Store design had been transformed. Customers were to be attracted into them, to look around even when they did not buy.

The business philosophy that Marks and Sieff shared was associated with social change even in years of economic depression. As Marks put it in 1936, "Goods and services once regarded as luxuries have become conventional comforts and are now almost decreed necessities. A fundamental change in people's habits has been brought about. Millions are enjoying a substantially higher standard of living. To this substantial rise in the standard of living our company claims to have made a definite contribution."

"Efficient distribution," he went on, "is not a static conception. It involves constant alertness and study of the changing habits, desires and tastes of the consumer." Sieff, who has given his own account of the ten years from 1926 to 1936, described his "mission" in practical terms. "We saw not through visionary idealists' clouds but from practical results in days of high competition that production and distribution could become a co-operative process making a positive contribution to the common good." Neither he nor Marks wanted to be involved in production, but through bulk buying they were able to influence the policies of those who were producing for them.

In the first postwar year, 1919, turnover had been £550,000 in 1939, when World War II broke out, it was £23.45 million. In the latter year there were 234 stores and more than 17,000 employees. In 1924 the head office of the company moved from Manchester to Friendly House, Chiswell Street, London EC1. In 1928 it was moved to a new building, named Michael House, in the same street. Three years later, there was another move to Baker Street, the present headquarters. Meanwhile, the now-familiar trademark, St Michael, had been applied first in 1928 to products sold in Marks and Spencer stores, and its use was extended gradually until Marks referred to it for the first time in a chairman's speech in 1949.

The Marks and Spencer stores of the interwar years represented a new form of business, challenging the role of older department stores. Yet such interwar stores were simple and unpretentious when compared with the superstores of the late 20th century that were to be visited by prime ministers and royal families. Indeed, the total cost of a new store in the 1920s was exceeded by the costs of electrical installation in the stores of the 1960s.

The prewar stores owed something to American experience, for it was after Marks first visited the United States in 1924 that he decided to follow, if not to copy, American developments. In 1927 a price limit of five shillings per item was set and there was a continuing emphasis on value for money, but there was an increasingly wide range of goods on sale. By 1932 there were more than 20 departments in the biggest stores, including ladies' and children's drapery men's and boys' wear footwear fancy goods household linens gramophone records confectionery toiletries lighting toys haberdashery millinery china, enamel and aluminum ware stationery gifts and food, recently introduced into a number of stores. Along with textiles, sales of which increased three times between then and 1939, food was to be a Marks and Spencer staple of the future.

Marks was right to emphasize how in relation to textiles, in particular, his business within a changing society was both to respond to consumer tastes and to develop them in an address to shareholders he stated that "it is the function of the modern distributor to purchase healthier and more attractive clothing." The revolution in food followed a generation later with the introduction of such items as iceberg lettuce, smoked salmon, Indian and Chinese foods, avocados, kiwi fruit, and wine. By then Marks and Spencer stores also were selling toiletries of all kinds, travel and holiday ware, and fashion clothes for men as well as women.

Wartime and immediate postwar austerity were bound to influence both consumer tastes and company profits, although even then the company benefited from the standardizing element in the government's Utility Scheme that regulated the design of a range of consumer goods and favored bulk buyers the scheme remained in operation until 1952 and in modified form until 1955. The company also was well poised to establish an overseas presence. A Marks and Spencer Export Corporation had been founded in 1940, and in 1955 it was exporting goods to the value of £703,000 to other overseas retailers. It was in 1954 that one of the first editions of a new in-house journal, St Michael's News, claimed rightly that by then Marks and Spencer was "news to the general public." This was the year when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, R. A. Butler, claimed that the country would double its standard of living during the next quarter of a century, and the company was well-positioned to move into the unprecedented consumer boom of the late 1950s and 1960s.

Turnover rose from £95 million in 1954 to £148 million in 1960, and profit before tax increased from £7.87 million to £12.81 million. It was in 1960, too, that a ten-year progress record became a convenient and impressive feature of the published accounts. The ten-year progress record for the years from fiscal 1973 to fiscal 1984 was to be even more striking in terms of sales and profits, although economic conditions during that period were to be far more difficult. By fiscal 1973 turnover had reached £496 million (excluding new sales taxes) in fiscal 1984 it was £2.9 billion. Meanwhile, profit before tax leapt from £70 million to £265 million. More sophisticated statistics revealed that sales per employee had risen during the same ten years from £18,651 to £73,099 and per square foot of floor space from £96 to £372. Profit per square foot had risen from £14 to £38.

By 1974 there were 17 overseas stores--the first of them opened in Canada in 1972. A Paris store was opened in 1975. Also in the early 1970s came the acquisition of three Canadian chains: Walker's clothing stores, which were eventually converted to Marks and Spencer stores D'Allaird's women's clothing stores and Peoples general merchandise stores. Between 1974 and 1977 exports tripled to more than £40 million and the company won the Queen's Award for Export Achievement. It was deeply committed also to another national achievement--supporting British producers whenever it could and encouraging them to develop efficient new lines of business. In the process it established close connections with a number of suppliers, which placed it in a virtually monopsonistic position. Relationships with the firms from which it was buying were handled as carefully as relationships with customers.

Before 1939 the main emphasis had been on the price-reducing advantages of bulk buying during the 1960s and 1970s the focus was on quality control, not least in textiles and in food, then the company's two biggest lines of business. There was continuity, however, rather than a basic shift. As early as 1933 a merchandising committee had been formed to coordinate the work of the various buying departments a small textiles laboratory had been created in 1935, and a merchandising development department had followed a year later. In 1946 a factory organization section, later called the production engineering department, had been opened "to assist manufacturers in the progressive modernization of their plant and to adapt themselves to the latest technical advances," and two years later a food development department was created. The department dealt both with British and with foreign suppliers, including suppliers of Israeli oranges there were visits to Israel, a country especially favored as a supplier as it was close to the hearts of Marks and Sieff, to deal with storage and packing.

Apart from research development and publicity, the company had devised its own approach to the buying process through the training of specified "selectors," so described for the first time during the 1930s, and merchandisers, who meticulously studied store demand and turnover before placing orders with producers. The system was integrated, and there was feedback from store to factory.

Quality control, encouraging suppliers in the interests of quality to use the most modern and efficient techniques of production provided by the latest discoveries in science and technology, was a "principle" upon which Marks and Sieff insisted. Unlike most retailers, Marks and Spencer had its own laboratories and employed its own scientists. Other "principles"--and they were formulated and listed as such by Israel Sieff in 1967 after Marks's death--were to guarantee customers high quality when they bought products using the St Michael's brand name, "to plan the extension of stores for the better display of a widening range of goods and for the convenience of our customers," "to simplify operating procedures so that the business is carried on in an efficient manner," and "to foster good relations with customers, suppliers and staff." "Operation Simplification," introduced in 1956, led to the saving of huge amounts of paper and electricity. The lessons were never lost.

Staffing matters had been taken seriously even before the 1930s, when a personnel department was set up in 1934, a year when the word "welfare" began to be used inside the business. Thereafter a wide enough range of "welfare activities" was organized to make Marks and Spencer a kind of welfare state in itself. They were appreciated by most employees, although a small minority found them somewhat stifling.

Meanwhile, great attention was paid to breaking down what Marcus Sieff called the "fear, suspicion and insecurity that threatened human relations in industry." The familiar term "industrial relations" was taboo at Baker Street it seemed to imply that there were two sides. In consequence, there was some trade-union criticism of the approach. "We are human beings at work, not industrial beings," Sieff emphasized in 1980. In the same year he stressed that training was not mostly a matter for workers on the shop floor whose talents needed to be mobilized. It began at the top. The first task of the chairman was "to impart the philosophy of our evolving business to our executives." The philosophy extended from employees to pensioners and to schemes for neighboring communities as well as for inner-city stores.

In 1965 Israel Sieff became chairman of the company and Marcus, who had joined the company in 1935 and became a director in 1954, was made vice-chairman. He became chairman in 1972 after J. Edward Sieff, Israel's brother, who had joined the company at Simon Marks's invitation in 1933, had had five years in the chair. There was thus a strong family thrust behind the company and Marcus (Lord) Sieff remained chairman until 1984, when a man born outside the family circles, Derek (Lord) Rayner, took over and rigorously developed the group's activities overseas. Spotted by Marcus Sieff as a young manager, he had joined the company in 1953 and became a director in 1967 and joint managing director in 1973. In 1979 he was seconded to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's newly elected government in an effort to streamline the civil service, returning to the company in 1982.

Financial Services Introduced in Mid-1980s

Rayner was chairman of the company from 1984 to 1991, and in that time several significant events occurred. In 1985 the Marks & Spencer Chargecard was launched nationwide in the United Kingdom. Although this move came rather late for such a large retailer, Marks and Spencer quickly moved deeper into financial services than other retailers. The company soon introduced personal loans, added unit trusts in 1988, and the following year introduced an investment plan called personal equity plans (PEPs), which were tax-sheltered vehicles for share purchases. These financial offerings eventually would form the nucleus of what became known as Marks and Spencer Financial Services.

In 1986 a line of furniture was introduced into Marks and Spencer stores. Two years later, Rayner began to move more aggressively overseas. In addition to opening the first two M&S stores in Hong Kong that year, the company entered the U.S. market for the first time through two acquisitions: the New Jersey-based Kings Super Markets grocery store chain and the Brooks Brothers chain of men's clothing stores, a £493.4 million (US $750 million) purchase.

Overseas Growth Continued in the 1990s

Rayner retired in 1991 and was succeeded by Richard Greenbury, knighted in the 1992 New Year's Honours List. Keith Oates, who served as deputy chairman and joint managing director under Greenbury, had joined the business at a high level as finance director from outside--a rare kind of appointment--in 1988. Overall, the company continued its foreign expansion under Greenbury, although difficulties with the Canadian operations led to the 1992 sale of Peoples and the 1996 sale of D'Allaird's, which was purchased by specialty retailer Comark. Brooks Brothers also proved nettlesome, but Marks and Spencer was able, finally, to turn that chain around by the mid-1990s. The company conceded by then that it had paid too much for Brooks Brothers, but was heartened by an 81 percent increase in operating profit in fiscal 1996.

Meanwhile, the Marks and Spencer chain was being expanded both abroad and at home, with both company-owned and franchised units. M&S stores debuted in Greece and Portugal in the early 1990s through franchise agreements, followed by mid-1990s franchise openings in Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, and the Czech Republic. On the company-owned store front, significant funds were committed to expand the chain's presence in two mainstay nations on the continent: France and Spain. In late 1996 the first M&S store in Germany opened in Cologne, with three additional units to open in Germany by late 1998. Two stores opened in Seoul, South Korea, in the spring of 1997. Back in the United Kingdom, the company in July 1997 announced that it would pay Littlewoods Organisation PLC £192.5 million (US $323.1 million) to acquire 19 stores, which would be converted to Marks and Spencer stores. Another franchise agreement was signed late in 1997 toward the opening of the first Australian M&S unit by late 1998. Additional franchised debuts were to take place in Dubai and Poland, with the company also investigating Latin America, China, Japan, and Taiwan.

Also expanded under Greenbury's leadership were the offerings of Marks and Spencer Financial Services. In 1995 the unit entered the life insurance and annuity market by offering five basic products: a protection policy, a critical illness policy, a combination protection and savings policy, and two personal annuity policies. Of further note during this period was the introduction of an M&S mail-order clothing catalog, the company's first foray into home shopping. In addition, Marks and Spencer in March 1998 won a libel suit against Granada Television over a World in Action program that had damaged the company's reputation by implying that M&S used child labor and misled customers by labeling clothing made overseas as "Made in the UK." Granada made a public apology and paid M&S an undisclosed sum.

Fiscal 1997 results for Marks and Spencer were impressive, as the company posted a revenue increase of 8.4 percent to £7.84 billion (US $12.84 billion) and an increase in group profits before taxes of 14.1 percent to £1.1 billion (US $1.8 billion). In November 1997 the company announced that it would spend £2.1 billion (US $3.4 billion) in a three-year expansion program, aiming in part to increase the percentage of revenue generated overseas from 17 percent to 25 percent by the early 21st century. A significant portion of the funds were to be spent in Germany, where 20 to 25 additional stores might open. Also to be enlarged was the Brooks Brothers chain, which already had more than 60 stores in Japan, but which now would eventually be extended into the United Kingdom and continental Europe. It seemed as if there was no stopping the Marks and Spencer juggernaut.

Principal Subsidiaries: Marks & Spencer Export Corporation Limited Marks & Spencer Finance plc Marks & Spencer Financial Services Limited Marks & Spencer Property Developments Limited Marks & Spencer Property Holdings Limited Marks & Spencer Retail Financial Services Holdings Limited Marks & Spencer Unit Trust Management Limited St. Michael Finance Limited S.A. Marks and Spencer Belgium N.V. Marks & Spencer Holdings Canada Inc. Marks & Spencer Canada Inc. Marks & Spencer (France) S.A. M&S Export (Ireland) Limited Marks & Spencer (Ireland) Limited Marks & Spencer US Holdings Inc. Brooks Brothers Inc. (U.S.A.) Brooks Brothers (Japan) Limited (51%) Kings Super Markets Inc. (U.S.A.) Marks & Spencer Finance Inc. (U.S.A.) Marks & Spencer Services Inc. (U.S.A.).

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Obituary: Lord Marks of Broughton

MICHAEL MARKS never recovered from being the son of his parents, though his sister Hannah had no such problems.

Simon Marks, the first Lord Marks of Broughton, who died in 1964, was possibly the greatest merchant prince of the century. His own father, another Michael, had arrived in England from Poland in 1882 and first traded in Leeds as Marks' Penny Bazaar ("Don't ask the price - it's a penny") in 1894 he had taken a partner, Tom Spencer, and in 1926, when the younger Michael was six years old and his father was 38, they went public as Marks & Spencer.

Simon's wife too, Miriam Sieff, was a dynamic and colourful character in her own right. Michael grew up in the shade of this powerful pair into a shy, bookish, retiring figure, indifferent to the empire his father had created, deeply troubled by his inevitable wealth and fearful that any friendly approach might conceal a predator.

He married five times and only his first wife, Ann Pinto, chosen from the ranks of the "haute juiverie", and who bore him a son and two daughters, was considered appropriate by the family, which was shaken by his conversion, with his last wife, to her Greek Orthodox faith.

I first met him on the lawn of his father's house, Titlarks Farm, Sunningdale, in the summer of 1941. He told me he was a Communist. My father told me Michael had given a grand piano to his girlfriend, a musician, but it was too big to negotiate the stairs to her bedsitter.

I was rather drawn to this scruffy, nervous fellow, so different to the rest of his family, who knew so much about painting, music and literature and we became sort of friends. He took me to lunch a few times, bearing his own thermos of tea, in the boardroom of his father, at Michael House, the headquarters of M&S, and when I became a publisher his mother asked me to give him a job.

He knew more about children's books than anybody I have ever met (and was the author of one in The Prince of the Golden Apple, 1975) and could and should have been a bookseller.

He never seemed to have any cash for his cab fare and the only money I ever had off him was for a charity to acquire a children's library, and pounds 5 I charged him for playing a game of tennis, which he paid quite cheerfully.

Despite his talents and intelligence he achieved nothing and his entry in Who's Who simply lists his date of birth and his children.

Crippled by money, he was a martyr to (his own) fortune.

Michael Marks: born 27 August 1920 succeeded 1964 as second Baron Marks of Broughton married 1949 Ann Pinto (one son, two daughters marriage dissolved 1958), 1960 Helene Fischer (marriage dissolved 1965), 1976 Toshiko Shimura (marriage dissolved 1985), 1988 Liyang Chang (marriage dissolved 1993), 1994 Marina Collins (nee Sakalis) died 11 September 1998.

Immigrants Made Good – Michael Marks

Michael Marks immigrated to England around 1882. He was a young Polish Jew with hardly a penny to his name. He arrived unable to speak the English language, and lacking any marketable trade experience. Within his lifetime, however, he would found one of the most widely known companies in the world: Marks & Spencer.

Dewhirst’s Warehouse – Harper Street Here Michael Marks met Tom Spencer, Dewhirst’s cashier, and in 1894 they formed the partnership of Marks & Spencer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marks was born in 1859 to Jewish parents in Slonim, then a part of Russian Poland. In 1882, he sought to escape anti-Jewish repression and looked to England as a solution. He had heard of a company called Barran in Leeds that was known to employ Jewish refugees, so off to Leeds he went.

Despite his lack of trade skills, Marks had a shrewd business mind. He had a knack for understanding what customers wanted and how to provide those goods and services.

In 1884, Marks met a Leeds warehouse owner named Isaac Dewhurst. Marks arranged a deal in which he would purchase products from Dewhurst’s warehouse and then sell them in the villages around Leeds. He learned English fairly quickly as he travelled throughout the towns and villages of West Yorkshire, carrying his bag full of wares.

Using the proceeds from his travelling sales, he invested in a permanent market stall in Leeds’ open market which quickly grew into a bustling little business. The venture was so successful that he opened stalls at markets in Castleford and Wakefield as well. He set himself apart from others in the market by clearly displaying prices on each of his products – a practice that was unusual at the time, but one that his customers clearly appreciated.

Eventually, Marks began renting a space at the new covered market in Leeds, which allowed him to operate six days a week. He had a few stalls, but his most popular by far was his penny stall. Prominently displayed was the message “Don’t Ask the Price, It’s a Penny.” The next few years would see more of Marks’ penny stalls opened in market halls across Yorkshire and Lancashire.

In hopes of further expanding his business, Marks approached Dewhurst with the idea of a partnership. Dewhurst wasn’t interested, but he directed Marks to his cashier, Tom Spencer. Spencer had observed Marks’ steady rise and business acumen, and felt that the required £300 investment was a safe one.

The new partners divided the work according to their particular strengths. While Marks continued to run the market stalls, Spencer managed the office and supply lines, capitalizing on contacts he had made with manufacturers while working for Dewhurst. Marks and Spencer soon had stores running in Liverpool, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Bristol, Hull, Manchester, Sunderland, and Cardiff.

By 1897, Marks and Spencer were running a miniature empire of thirty six branches. They built new stores in Bradford, Northampton, Preston, Swansea, and Leicester, as well as several branches in London. They also constructed a new warehouse in Manchester, which became their home office.

Marks & Spencer became a limited company in 1903. While Spencer soon retired, Marks continued to grow the company until his death in December of 1907.

In addition to his status as a great businessman, Marks was also remembered as a great philanthropist. He was widely known and respected in the community, and his life, work and generosity were celebrated by the largest attendance ever seen by the Manchester Jewish Cemetery

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