Marks & Spencer opened its heritage and coffee shop at Kirkgate Market to customers, bringing M&S back to the place where the famous brand started as a penny bazaar in 1884.
The stall has been launched as part of the first anniversary celebrations of the M&S Company Archive opening to the public through the Marks in Time exhibition. The stall will promote the exhibition to the public and include archive imagery from M&S’ 129 year history, as well as selling coffee and small archive items such as mugs and sweets from its location beside the famous M&S clock in the 1904 building of Kirkgate Market.
As part of the first anniversary celebrations M&S will also unveil a new Heritage Trail in partnership with Leeds City Council on Saturday 16th March. The self-guided walk will start at the Kirkgate stall and finish at the M&S Company Archive, taking in places of historic interest for the company around the city.
Alison Houston, Head of the M&S Company Archive, said: "We are very excited about giving customers the chance to experience the origins of Marks & Spencer right inside its original setting at Kirkgate Market.
"M&S has deep historical links to Leeds, so the Heritage Trail is a unique opportunity to learn more about the origins of the company nearly 130 years ago and its connection to various parts of the city centre from 1884 through to the present day."
Phil Edwards, Deputy Store Manager of M&S Leeds Briggate and Manager of the new stall, said: "We have had a lot of support from people locally in Leeds about the launch of the new stall and we are very excited to be bringing M&S back to its birthplace. It was great to see so many customers old and new at the launch and to showcase the history of the company."
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive board member for development and the economy said: "It is great to see M&S returning to its roots in Kirkgate Market. The market is an excellent place for new businesses to start up and test their products before taking the big leap onto the high street.
"I am sure that this new stall, along with the heritage trail, will stimulate great interest among visitors to the market and preview the extensive retail history M&S has in Leeds. I look forward to joining customer, tourists and historians taking the heritage trail around the city centre."
In addition to the opening of Kirkgate Market, the Marks in Time Exhibition will mark its one year anniversary with a series of free events and activities for members of the public on Saturday 16th March, including:
• Guided tours of the new M&S Heritage Trail;
• A digital film showcasing the offer and collection of the M&S Company Archive;
• The opening of a temporary exhibition for the best items that have been donated to the M&S Company Archiveover the last year. Items in the exhibition include a 1947 Marspun dress, produced under the ‘Civilian Clothing 1941’ utility label as wartime clothing rationing continued and previously owned by Mrs Joyce Edwards of Wolverhampton.