M&S Company Archive to open at University


The new Michael Marks Building, which will house M&S' full Company Archive and include expansion space for collections from the University library, opens its doors to the public on Friday 16th March.

The M&S Company Archive, containing more than 70,000 items, has now been permanently relocated to the new 19,000 sq ft, three-storey building from its previous London home. The move will make the archive fully accessible to the public for the very first time whilst also opening up the collections to academics and students for research, teaching and learning. The archive will also continue to operate as a key business unit for M&S.

Highlights from the collection will be on display in a dedicated area that 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.

The building's bespoke design also comprises conference facilities, a dedicated reading room facilitating direct access to the items, temperature and humidity controlled units to house M&S' vast collections and additional space for archived items from the University's extensive library collections and staff areas.

Alison Houston, Head of the M&S Company Archive, said: "We're incredibly excited to be just weeks away from opening the doors of the Michael Marks Building to the public, academics and students for the first time.

"This marks the next chapter in our successful partnership with the University of Leeds and brings the full Company Archive back to the home of M&S. We look forward to welcoming visitors through our doors to experience and enjoy the new building, archive collection and exhibition for themselves."

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, Professor Michael Arthur, said: "Our partnership with Marks & Spencer represents a new model for how a world-leading university and an iconic FTSE 100 company can work together. The partnership provides a solid platform for the future, and has already delivered successes for both organisations. The new Michael Marks Building will be a fantastic resource for staff and students, the company and the community."

The rich archive collection includes business papers, advertising materials and merchandise such as clothing, toys and household items. It is expected to be of particular interest to staff and students working in subjects including business, economics, textiles, arts, history, communications, marketing, colour chemistry, food sciences and the social sciences.

A new website, marksintime.marksandspencer.com has been launched to coincide with the opening of the M&S Company Archive. The site features general and schools' information as well as listings for all upcoming archive events and exhibitions, an interactive M&S timeline, profiles of the people who made M&S the institution it is today and store histories providing archive photos and information about M&S stores across the country.

Upcoming M&S Company Archive Events:





16 March

12.00, 1.30 & 3.00

Introductory talks


No need to book

Open for Business

Hear how this exciting project grew from a seed of an idea into a new building, a new exhibition and a new era for the history of M&S

17 March


For all the family


No need to book

Sparky Saturdays: Sweet Treats & Family Favourites

A day of celebrating all things sugary and nice. Follow the Sweetie Trail and find out what sweets were like in the days before Percy Pig and Colin the Caterpillar. Sample some traditional treats and keep your eyes peeled for Percy Pig himself

24 March


12.30-1.30, &


Special event


Booking essential

Behind the Scenes at the Archive

Your opportunity to have all your questions answered. A guided tour of the archive Strongroom and Reading Room. Find out how to use the online catalogue and unearth the treasures held in the archive collections

31 March

11.00-1.00 &


For all the family (ages 6+)


Booking essential

Sparky Saturdays: Planet-Friendly Fashion

An artist will help you make wonderful accessories out of an exciting selection of everyday waste materials

To book email companyarchive@marks-and-spencer.com and for further information visit marksintime.marksandspencer.com/events/

For more information, please contact:

Contact: University of Leeds Press Office, +44 113 343 4031 or email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk

To download pictures of the M&S Company Archive collection, please visit: www.marksandspencer.com/imagelibrary

For more information on the history of M&S, please visit: www.marksandspencer.com/thecompany

Notes to Editors

University of Leeds

  • The University of Leeds is the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse according to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. It is also one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/
  • The M&S Company Archive enhances the University of Leeds' rich collection of cultural and artistic assets which includes the Stanley and Audrey Burton Art Gallery, the Library and Special Collections, Clothworkers' Centenary Concert Hall and a theatre complex, stage@leeds. The Refectory remains a perennial favourite with bands; and the University's ground-breaking partnership with Opera North is attracting plaudits.

The M&S Company Archive - Background

  • The M&S Company Archive has been deemed by independent experts as having the potential to be one of the UK's finest corporate archives. It offers an unrivalled insight into the company's corporate history with an extensive collection company documents. It also includes clothing, toys, books, homeware and food packaging.
  • The M&S Company Archive is deemed to be of considerable value to scholars due to the economic and social importance of M&S - lending itself to a number of research projects from the evolution of the company, development of staff welfare programmes and financial performance through to the growth of the store network and the range and nature of products provided to a growing mass market.