The company was founded in 1884 by Michael Marks, an immigrant from Minsk (now in Belarus), as a small market stall in Leeds , Yorkshire . The company became known as ‘Marks & Spencer’ following a partnership agreement between Marks and Thomas Spencer in 1894.
The first Marks & Spencer store was opened in 1904. It then became a Limited Company after adopting the revolutionary policy of buying directly from manufacturers.
In the 20th century, M&S built its reputation on a policy of selling high quality goods from British manufacturers. In 1998 it became the first British retailer to make a pre-tax profit of over £1 billion.
However, the next few years saw the company struggle with a slump in sales, which led to a number of takeover bids.