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Marks and Spencer - M&S is a UK Department Store That's a British Institution

Marks & Spencer -A Household Name and One of Britain's Most Famous Retail Brands


All over the world, people who have heard about shopping in Britain have also heard about Marks and Spencer. This department store chain is so fully enmeshed in British life that it is hard to imagine a decent sized town or village without one.

Founded by Russian-born, Polish refugee Michael Marks with a Leeds market stall in 1884, the enterprise - selling everything for one penny - had grown to 12 establishments by 1894 when Thomas Spencer joined, bringing his bookkeeping skills and investment of £300. Today, Marks and Spencer has more than 560 UK stores as well as 150 stores worldwide, in 30 countries.

What Can You Buy at M&S

The company specialises in budget to modestly priced, high quality clothing for men, women and children. Most Englishwomen, no matter what their social status, have at least some M&S lingerie or underwear. The company has an online presence where other kinds of goods, including furniture and home electronics are sold. Visit the M&S website to see the company's full range of goods.

Everything sold in Marks and Spencer, including food, is made under contract to M&S, sold under M&S's own brands and exclusive to the stores.

M&S Also Sells Food

Consider that an understatement. M&S's grocery operation is so successful that the company opened a separate group of smaller branches - known as M&S: Simply Food - that sells nothing but. M&S food is more expensive and has a reputation for being more selective as well as of higher quality than groceries found in other high street stores and supermarkets. A specialty is ready to cook, prepared dishes, or recipe dishes where all the ingredients for a home-cooked version of a special meal are included in the same package.

Visitors will find M&S grocery departments or its "Simply Food" branches useful for really tempting picnic supplies as well as tins of biscuits (cookies), sweets (candies) and teas to take home as gifts.

What's in a Name?

People call it Marks and Spencer, M&S and, in some parts of the country, Marks. But only tourists and tabloid headline writers call it Marks & Sparks. It's kind of like calling a British police officer a "Bobby". Don't do it.

Where to Find Marks and Spencer Stores

The issue is more likely to be where can I not find an M&S. Just about any British county or market town has at least one M&S. Check their Store Finder to find your nearest M&S.

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