In retail history

Marks & Spencer Bekonscot by Michael Maggs from WikiCommons

Marks & Spencer Bekonscot by Michael Maggs from WikiCommons

On September 28th, 1894, Michael Marks and Tom Spencer open their Penny Bazaar at Leeds Kirkgate Market.  The company traces its roots even farther back to 1884 when Michael Marks opened his first stall in Leeds with the slogan “Don’t ask the price, it’s a penny.”

For the first 30 years or so, M&S operated at various markets throughout the area.  As the company grew, they initiated a number of revolutionary retail ideas.  Beginning in the early 1900s, M&S sold only British produced items.  A cash refund was offered on items that customers no longer wanted if they had a receipt regardless of how long they had owned it. In 1920, they began to buy directly from suppliers.  Marks & Spencer set up a staff welfare service in 1933 providing pensions, subsidized employee cafeterias, medical and dental services, hairdressing and vacation programs.  In 1934, M&S opened the first British product testing facility.  In 1953, M&S adopted the slogan “The customer is always and completely right.”

From the humble beginning of a stall at a public market, Marks & Spencer has since grown into own of the most respected brands in Great Britain and beyond.

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