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Marks & Spencer | Success Story of the Multinational Retailer



Marks & Spencer
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Marks & Spencer is one of the most prominent British retailers in the world. Founded in 1884 by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer, M&S is famous for its clothing, beauty, homeware, food, and flowers. Every year, M&S serves over 30 million customers. It is one of the most trustable and celebrated brands worldwide. The brand offers a wide range of luxury clothing. It is recognized for its superlative craftsmanship, fashionable designs, and accessibility. 


Marks & Spencer has dominated the world of fashion for several decades. It offers its customers a luxurious range of clothing, footwear, perfumes, kitchenware, and bath and body care products. Headquartered in London, England, Marks & Spencer has more than 1400 stores across the globe. Digitally, it’s available in over 100 countries, making it one of the most accessible brands in the world. Every year, millions of customers shop from Marks & Spencer’s online and offline platforms. Iconic celebrities like Ellie Goulding, Victoria Beckham, Bipasha Basu, Alex Jones, Meghan Markle, and Kate Middleton have endorsed the brand. 


Michael Marks & Thomas Spencer

Michael Marks was born in June 1859 in Slonim, a city in the multinational Russian Empire at the time. He belonged to a Polish-Jewish family. During the early 1980s, Michael moved to England. Upon moving, he came to know about a company in Leeds. It was called Barran. The company was renowned for hiring Jewish immigrants. After moving to Leeds, Michael came across Issac Dewhirst. Issac owned a warehouse in Leeds. Michael decided to make a deal with Issac. He agreed to buy Issac’s goods and sell them in the local areas. In 1884, Michael started selling Issac’s goods on a stall in Leeds and nearby villages. It was a successful venture. Soon, he expanded his business. His stalls used to operate six days a week. Moreover, he extended his business area. Consequently, his stalls were all over Leeds, Yorkshire, and Lancashire. 

On the 7th of November 1851, Thomas Spencer was born in Skipton, Yorkshire, England. In his late teens, he moved to Leeds. Upon moving, he started working at a warehouse. At the warehouse, Thomas became a bookkeeper. Later, the warehouse owner, Issac Dewhirst, started a wholesale business. Consequently, Thomas became the cashier of the new wholesale venture. 

Establishment of Marks & Spencer

After establishing a successful business, Michael Marks wanted to grow his business. He started looking for a business partner. As a result, he approached Issac Dewhirst. Issac denied his offer but recommended Thomas’ name to Michael. Michael talked to Thomas about the business. He told Thomas that the business required a sum of £300 for expansion. Thomas agreed to the offer and decided to invest £300 in the venture. Consequently, Thomas became a co-owner of the wholesaling trade. The two started running the business together. Thomas managed the office and warehouse. In contrast, Michael continued running the stalls. As a result, on the 28th of September 1894, Marks & Spencer was born. 

Initial Years

While working at the warehouse, Thomas developed a considerable number of contacts with manufacturers. Therefore, the connections enabled him to get goods for low prices from the manufacturers. Soon, the business started to grow, and Marks & Spencer opened its stores in Manchester, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Bristol, and Cardiff. During the early 20th century, M&S sold British-made goods only. It had built a strong relationship with the manufacturers. Initially, it sold clothes and food under the name “St. Michael.” Gradually, by the 1950s, M&S launched lingerie, women’s clothes, and girls’ school uniform line. It was branded as “St. Margaret.” Simultaneously, the company established a food technology department. 

Pathway to Success

After establishing clothing and food development lines, Marks & Spencer focused on providing its customers with affordable and fashionable materials. As a result, it gained the reputation of a valuable brand across Britain. Following the successful clothing venture, M&S began experimenting with food items. In 1958, the company launched Christmas cakes and puddings. For the improvisation of the food department, M&S hired renowned food experts. Consequently, the cake line saw a significant improvement. By the early 1970s, M&S had developed its frozen food line. In 1973, the brand’s frozen food was available in more than 100 stores across Britain. 

Worldwide Recognition

After becoming successful in Britain, M&S decided to expand its business overseas. Between 1973-75, the company opened its stores in Canada and France. The stores in Canada did not achieve success. As a result, by the late 1990s, M&S closed over 30 stores across Canada. Despite losses in Canada, M&S was determined to expand the business globally. The stores in France turned out to be popular and profitable. In 2008, Marks & Spencer opened its first store in Shanghai, China. The brand has provided its customers with contemporary, elegant, and fashionable clothing for over a century.

Moreover, it has a wide range of household items, beauty products, and fashion accessories. One of its most popular ventures is the food department. The brand has stores in South Africa, India, Australia, China, New Zealand, Canada, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, and many more. Presently, it serves over 30 million customers a year. The brand is considered one of Britain’s most iconic brands. Several A-list celebrities have endorsed M&S. To date, it holds the reputation of being a high-quality, quintessential, and successful brand. 

Also read: Burberry | Success Story of the Illustrious Fashion House

What is the net worth of Marks & Spencer?

Marks & Spencer’s net worth is estimated to be $3.51 billion as of 2022. The brand offers a wide range of clothing, fashion accessories, beauty products, homeware, kitchenware, and food. It is renowned for its superlative craftsmanship, quintessential designs, and delectable food items. 

When was Marks & Spencer founded?

Marks & Spencer was founded in 1884. Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer established the brand in Leeds, England. Initially, the venture started on stalls. Gradually, the company expanded and opened its stores across Britain. 

Who is the CEO of Marks & Spencer?

Steve Rowe is the current CEO of Marks & Spencer. Appointed in 2016, Steve Rowe’s father had also worked for Marks & Spencer. Steve had joined the company at the age of eighteen. Initially, he was a trainee. Later, he became a store manager. 

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