• Beginnings

    It's amazing what a penny can do. ‘Don’t ask the price, it’s a penny’ was the slogan Michael Marks used when he opened his first bazaar in Leeds in 1884. It couldn’t be any simpler and both his idea and hard work soon paid off. But it was when Michael went into partnership with Tom Spencer in 1894 that the company we all know really started to take shape; built around the five key principles of Quality, Value, Service, Innovation and Trust.

    Beginnings in depth

    Michael Marks
    Michael Marks opened the first Penny Bazaar in Leeds in 1884
    • Penny Bazaar 1
      Painting of Penny Bazaar, Van Jones 1955
    • 1900_yoyo
      This yo-yo was donated by Joy Everett. It belonged to her mother, Alice. It was bought from the Lincoln Penny Bazaar in the 1890s by Alice’s parents.
    • Buttons Display
      You can see original Penny Bazaar goods on display at the M&S Company Archive.
    • Thomas Spencer
      Tom Spencer

    My M&S smoked almonds: 'Few things have given me so much gustatory pleasure in my old age as this wonderfully treated form of almond!

    The philosopher Isaiah Berlin, 72, Oxford