Marks & Spencer
Michael Marks was a Polish-Jewish pogrom refugee who left Belarus for England in the late 19th century. Sir John Barran employed Marks, and other such refugees for his company, Barran in the North of England. In 1884, while looking for work, Marks met Isaac Jowitt Dewhirst. The five pounds Dewhirst lent Marks to start his Penny Bazaar in Leeds, would be the first step to what we see now as Marks & Spencer. Dewhirst’s cashier was Tom Spencer. In 1894, Marks invited Spencer to be his partner in a new stall in Leeds’ covered market.
In 1901, the pair moved to Birkenhead, where they took up adjacent stalls in the open market. Just two years later they opened another Penny Bazaar. They opened several market stalls throughout the North West of England over the next few years. The business grew in prominence and recognition and it became colloquially known as ‘Marks & Sparks’. They only sold British made goods (an activity that continued until 2002), and they introduced their own St. Michael brand in 1928. By 1950, virtually all goods were sold under the "St Michael" label.
The company has enjoyed its ups and downs throughout its history, but it is a reliable British brand that has attracted generations of UK and Irish shoppers.
Marks and Spencer Group plc
Address: Waterside House, 35 North Wharf Road, London, W2 1NW
Phone: 020 7935 4422
Email: Website contact form
Overseas operations have had mixed fortunes, but the company is constantly updating itself to remain at the forefront of the British shopping experience.
Food retailing is aimed at a similar high-end level as Waitrose, and the Crisps range is massive. At the time of writing, it had as many different ranges within their private labelled branding as any Potato Crisps manufacturer operating in the British market.