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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Marks & Spencer

Michael Marks, a Jewish immigrant from the Russian region of Belarus, first opened his penny bazaar stall in Leeds Kitkgate Market in 1884.

On September 28, 1894 Michael Marks signed a partnership with cashier Tom Spencer to open a shop at 20 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, Spencer was recommended by warehouse owner Isaac Dewhurst, who had employed Marks to sell goods to the surrounding villages.

Michael Marks was listed as a wholesale hardware and co dealer at 20 Cheetham Hill Road in the 1895 Kelly's Directory for Manchester.
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The next few years saw Michael Marks and Tom Spencer open market stalls in many locations around the North West of England. By 1900, Marks & Spencer had expanded to include 36 Penny Bazaars and 12 high street stores.

Marks & Spencer original penny bazaar, a mockup in the Kirkgate Markets, Leeds. By Flickr user:Tim Green aka atouch

Marks & Spencer 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).

In the early 20th century most shops kept their stock behind counters, but Marks & Spencer stores displayed everything on trays for customers to inspect.

Spencer died in 1905 and Marks two years later. Michael Marks' son Simon became chairman in 1916 , under whom the business grew into a retail empire, acquiring other chains of penny bazaars across the United Kingdom.

In the first part of the 20th century Marks & Spencer sold biscuits, mending wools, pins, combs, needles, socks – and in the days before TV or radio – sheet music.

In 1926 Marks & Spencer went public They also reduced the huge array of items offered, placing emphasis on two departments: food, which the company had always sold to some extent, and clothing, which was new for them.

Representation of historic store from the 1930s, Bekonscot model village, UK. By MichaelMaggs -Wikipedia Commons

In 1998, Marks & Spencer became the first British retailer to make a pre-tax profit of over £1 billion.

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