A level Business Studies and AVCE Business exam revision resource

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Travel back in time and discover some of the interesting facts that have helped to make Marks & Spencer who they are today. The company values of quality, value, service, innovation and trust aren't new - they're the principles on which the business was founded. Find out for yourself where they fit in.




1884 : Michael Marks, a Russian born Polish refugee opened a stall at Leeds Kirkgate Market.

1893 : Michael moved to 20 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester. In the following year, he opened a shop in the lower part of the same building.

1894 : Michael formed a partnership with Tom Spencer, a former cashier from the wholesale company IJ Dewhirst.

1901 : A new warehouse and head office opened at Derby Street, Manchester. It was the first property that was built to the businesses specifications.

1904 : The business acquired premises for a shop at the recently opened Cross Arcade in Leeds. This was a prestigious site and marked the transition from market stall to a covered arcade.

1905 : Tom Spencer died on 25 July.

1907 : Michael Marks died on 31 December. It was now time for a new generation to advance the success of the two founders.

Michael Marks
Michael Marks

Tom Spencer
Tom Spencer


1920s : The business adopted a revolutionary policy, at that time, of buying directly from manufacturers.

1926 : Marks & Spencer Limited became a public company.

1928 : The St Michael Trade Mark was registered.

1930 : The flagship store was opened at Marble Arch, London.

1931 : A food department was introduced selling produce and canned goods.

St Michael Trade Mark
St Michael
Trade Mark

Marble Arch Store
Flagship Store
Marble Arch


1930s : Café Bars were introduced in many stores. These provided cheap, hygienic and nutritious mass catering. This was a valuable resource during the war making efficient use of scarce food.

1933 : Simon Marks commissioned Flora Solomon to set up a staff welfare service that provided pensions, subsidised staff canteens, health and dental service, hairdressing, rest rooms and camping holidays.

1934 : A scientific Research Lab was established headed by Dr Eric Kann. This was the first research lab of any British retailer, allowing the Company to pioneer new fabrics.

1939-1945 : The advent of the Utility Clothing Scheme in wartime meant that there were strict specifications on the use of materials and trimmings for all clothing. One of our scientists was seconded to help develop the scheme to produce a range of quality garments throughout the period of restriction.

1941 : Marks & Spencer staff raised funds in order to present a Spitfire 'The Marksman' to the country, to aid the war effort.

1948 : Marks & Spencer held their first self-service trial at their store in Wood Green, London. It was a great success.

Marks & Spencer Cafe Bar
Cafe Bar

Marks & Spencer Scientific Research Lab
Scientific Research Lab


1959 : The company introduced No Smoking rules in their stores.

1961 : Dogs, with the exception of Guide Dogs, were banned from stores to ensure hygiene at the food counters.

1964 : Simon Marks died after 56 years service to the Company and Israel Sieff took over as Chairman.

1973 : The company sold wine for the first time.

1974 : Indian and Chinese food was introduced, dishes included Chicken Korma and Lamb Rogan Josh.

1975 : Marks & Spencer's first stores in Continental Europe opened in Boulevard Haussman, Paris and Brussels, Belgium.

Israel Sieff
Israel Sieff

Marks & Spencer Wine
Marks & Spencer Wine


1985 : The Marks & Spencer Chargecard was launched nationally.

1986 : Marks & Spencer opened its first edge of town store at the Metro Centre in Gateshead. The introduction of furniture was supported by the launch of the Home Furnishing catalogue.

1988 : The company acquired Brooks Brothers, an American clothing company and Kings Super Markets, a US food chain. The first Marks & Spencer stores were opened in Hong Kong, also in this year.

1999 : The company published its own code of practice Global Sourcing Principles as a minimum standard for all suppliers in an effort to improve conditions for workers overseas.

1999 : Online shopping was launched on the Marks & Spencer website.

2000 : 12 items were awarded Millennium Product status, the highest number of awards made to any single company. These included Body Sensor Hosiery, Machine Washable Wool Tailoring, Non-Iron Cotton Clothing, Non-Polish Shoes, Imagemaster, Gas Powered Lorries, In-Store Bakery Oven, Thermotext Security Thread in Gift Vouchers, Advanced Design Refrigerator Display Case, Ultimate Body Bra, Sensitive Skin Clothing for Children and Secret Support clothing.

2000 : The 'Count On Us' range of food products was launched.

2000 : £15 million was raised via the Marks & Spencer Children's Promise Millennium appeal.

2001 : Machine Washable suits for men and the Bioform Bra were launched.

2001 : The Portrait of the Nation - commissioned on behalf of Marks & Spencer as sponsors of the self portrait zone at the Millennium Dome - began a tour of the country. The 15 panels displaying 250,000 photographs were created by artist David Mach R.A.

Edge of Town Store
Edge of Town Store

The Marks & Spencer website
Marks & Spencer Website

Machine Washable suits
Machine Washable Suits

Sourced from the Marks & Spencer website on 15/04/02, for further information visit the Marks & Spencer website.


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