M&S (Marks & Spencer Group plc) is a British multinational retailer with its headquarters in the City of Westminster, the Inner London borough. It's listed on the LSE (London Stock Exchange), and it's a constituent of the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index (FTSE 100 Index). The company deals in selling of luxury food products, home products and clothing.
While looking for work, Mark met Isaac Jowitt Dewhirst in 1884. Jowitt lent him 5 pounds; he used the money to establish a Penny Bazaar that was located in Kirkgate Market, in Leeds. Also, Dewhirst taught him English. Jowitt's cashier was Spencer, a bookkeeper. Marks managed to acquire permanent stall in 1894 in Leeds' covered market and invited Spencer to be his partner. Marks relocated to an open market in Birkenhead in 1901 where he merged with Spencer.
In 1903, the partners were allotted stall numbers eleven and twelve in the centre aisle. Here, they opened Penny Bazaar. On 24 February 1923, the firm left Birkenhead Market. The next several years saw Spencer and Marks open market stalls in numerous locations throughout North West England. They moved the original Penny Bazaar in Leeds to Manchester
M&S, also known a Marks and Sparks, made a reputation in the early twentieth century with its policy of selling British-made goods only. The company began backing down from that policy in the nineties. It went into long-term relationships with manufacturers in Britain and sold food and clothes under a brand called the "St Michael", introduced in 1928: this brand honours Marks.
Also, it accepted the return of any unwanted item and gave a full cash refund so long as the receipt was shown, it didn't matter when the product was bought, which was not usual for that period.
By 1950, essentially all goods were being sold under the label "St Michael". Girls' school uniform, women's clothes and M&S lingerie were branded under the label "St Margaret" until the entire range of general merchandise was "St Michael". In 1974, a cautious international expansion started with the Asian food introduction. In 1975, the company opened stores in mainland Europe and four years later in Ireland.
In 1958, the company started selling Christmas puddings and Christmas cakes. In 1960, the company opened its first ever Asian store located in Kabul, Afghanistan. In 1973, M&S expanded into Canada; at some point, it had 47 shops throughout Canada. However, by 1999 all the stores in Canada were closed since they were unprofitable.
In 1975, expansion into France started with stores opening in Paris at Lyon and Boulevard Haussmann. In 1977, this was followed by another Paris shop based at Rosny 2. Further expansion into other Belgian and French cities followed in the eighties. Although the shops in Paris remained profitable and popular, the operation in Western Europe as a whole didn't fare as well: in 2001,18 shops were sold.
M&S acquired an American clothing company called Brooks Brothers and a United States food chain known as Kings Super Markets. In 2016, the company expanded and started selling through Zalando (European marketplace) on their Austrian, Belgian, Dutch, French and German websites with a range of lingerie and kidswear.
It's an important business asset of more than 70,000 historical items plus acts to collect, preserve as well as utilise material that relates to all aspects of their development and history as a company. Known to be one of the country's richest retail history collections, the Archive collection charts their journey over 130 years, from the famous Penny Bazaar to the international multichannel retailer. Their diverse items collection dates from 1884 when the company was established, and it includes design and advertising material, garments and household products, photographs and films, staff publications, written records, and much much more.