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Marks and Spencer plc (also known as M&S) is a major
British multinational retailer headquartered in the City of
Westminster, London. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and
is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.
It specialises in the selling of clothing, home products and luxury
food products. M&S was founded in 1884 by Michael Marks and Thomas
Spencer in Leeds. The company also began to sell branded goods
like Kellogg's Corn Flakes in November 2008.
In 1998, the company became the first British retailer to make a
pre-tax profit of over £1 billion, although subsequently it went
into a sudden slump, which took the company, its shareholders, who
included hundreds of thousands of small investors, and nearly all
retail analysts and business journalists, by surprise. In November
2009, it was announced that Marc Bolland, formerly of Morrisons,
would take over as chief executive from executive chairman Stuart
Rose in early 2010; Rose remained in the role of non-executive
chairman until he was replaced by Robert Swannell in January 2011.
M&S have 852 stores throughout the UK, as well as many international
stores; 52 stores in India, 48 stores in Turkey, 37 in Russia, 27 in
Greece, 17 in Ireland, 14 in France, 11 in Poland, 6 in Hungary and
Finland and 5 in Spain.
In recent years its clothing sales have fallen whilst food sales
have increased after the axing of "St. Michael's" naming for their
Establishment Marks and Spencer on Briggate not far from
their original branch in Leeds.
The company was founded by a partnership between Michael Marks, a
Polish Jew from Słonim (Marks was born into a Polish-Jewish family,
a Polish refugee living in the Russian Empire, now in Belarus), and
Thomas Spencer, a cashier from the English market town of Skipton in
North Yorkshire. On his arrival in England, Marks worked for a
company in Leeds, called Barran, which employed refugees (see Sir
John Barran, 1st Baronet). In 1884 he met Isaac Jowitt Dewhirst
while looking for work. Dewhirst lent Marks £5 which he used to
establish his Penny Bazaar on Kirkgate Market, in Leeds.Dewhirst
also taught him a little English. Dewhirst's cashier was Tom
Spencer, a bookkeeper, whose second wife, Agnes, helped improve
Marks' English. In 1894, when Marks acquired a permanent stall in
Leeds' covered market, he invited Spencer to become his partner.
In 1901 Marks moved to the Birkenhead open market where he
amalgamated with Spencer. The pair were allocated stall numbers 11 &
12 in the centre aisle in 1903, and there they opened the famous
Penny Bazaar. The company left Birkenhead Market on 24 February
The next few years saw Michael Marks and Tom Spencer open market
stalls in many locations around the North West of England and move
the original Leeds Penny Bazaar to 20, Cheetham Hill Road,