Marks & Spencer's Company Archives opened at Leeds University | TQS Magazine

No matter whether you call it: Marksies, M & S, or Marks & Sparks, there’s no doubt that Leeds-born retailer Marks & Spencer is a British institution. Last Friday TQS went down to The University of Leeds for the opening of the brand new Marks & Spencer Company Archive, cementing its place as a part of British heritage.

Made possible through a unique partnership between M&S and the University of Leeds, the building houses M&S’ full Company Archive of more than 70,000 items and includes expansion space for collections from the University library.

Free to enter and located in the bespoke new Michael Marks Building, the archive is supported by a reading room, conference facilities and environmental regulation controls to ensure the artifacts’ continued survival.

Highlights from the collection  are now on display in a dedicated area in the new building and will be regularly updated. The exhibition is designed to walk visitors through M&S’ 128 year history, charting the company’s progress from the first buttons sold on Michael Marks’ Penny Bazaar stall in Leeds’ Kirkgate Market and highlighting the product innovation and business growth that have established M&S as the iconic British retailer we know today. You can access a PDF with a full collection overview by clicking here.

Robert Swannell, M&S Chairman said:

“We’re proud to have opened the doors of this impressive new building which is the result of a successful and prosperous partnership between M&S and the University of Leeds.”

The archive will also be holiding regular events such as a free behind the scenes tour on Saturday 24th March (click here for more information.) See below some of our favourite pieces of the collection and visit the Marks in Time website for more info.

A framed shot from an early M & S fashion show

A trio of original Marks & Spencer uniforms

A selection of M & S 60s clothing