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Our business started as a Penny Bazaar in Leeds back in 1884.

Did you know that we sold our first bra in 1926?

How about that our scientists worked with the government during WW2 to help with rationing strategy?

Or even that when we were one of the first to introduce 'avocado pears' in 1968 one customer tried to serve it as a dessert with custard?!

Discover our story and unlock the fascinating journey that has made M&S one of Britain’s best loved retailers


Kirkgate Market

In March 2013 we returned to our roots and opened a stall at Kirkgate Market in Leeds, the same place that Michael Marks opened the first Penny Bazaar stall in 1884. Our M&S heritage stall and coffee shop is located right beside the famous M&S clock in the 1904 Kirkgate Market building and marks the starting point of our Heritage Trail.

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In Partnership: working with the University of Leeds

The relocation of the Company Archive in 2012 created the foundation for a unique relationship with the University of Leeds. Our diverse partnership gives us the opportunity to join up with one of the UK’s leading research-intensive Russell Group Universities, who in turn enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate real impact through collaboration with a FTSE 250 international business. 

The partnership offers a broad range of opportunities to support young people into the workplace. From mentoring programmes to student projects and work placements, young people get the chance to work with colleagues across the business, learning the skills they need for the future. Since opening in 2012, we’ve also collaborated on cutting-edge research projects in areas as diverse as international business and gender diversity, and supported M&S charity partners such as Oxfam through bringing Shwop At Work to the University. The partnership has also explored emerging digital learning platforms. Launched in September 2014, ‘Innovation: The Key to Business Success’ was the first Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) for M&S and attracted the highest number of learners for a University of Leeds course to date. 

An example of our partnership in action, the ‘On Your Marks’ Networking Series brings business and higher education together through a series of working lunches, featuring guest speakers, topical debate and networking at the University. M&S speakers to date have included Executive Director Multi-channel E-commerce, Laura Wade-Gery; Director of Plan A, Mike Barry and our Company Secretary, Amanda Mellor, on subjects from sustainability to business ethics and Big Data to branding. Find out more about the series and watch videos from previous events here.

For more information about our partnership with the University of Leeds click here.

Contact our Company Archive Team

If you have an enquiry about the history of M&S, our Archive team will be happy to help you. 

By Email:

By phone: 0208 718 2800 

By post

M&S Company Archive 

Michael Marks Building 

Western Campus 

University of Leeds