Marks & Spencer will create a permanent archive from its 125 year history in a dedicated site at Leeds University, and will launch an M&S vintage roadshow to encourage its customers to bring in historical items bought at the retailer.
The archive will showcase iconic product designs, textiles and photos relating to M&S in a permanent home on the university’s Western campus from 2011.
It will be open to the public and to students for research.
The permanent archive will be created following the launch of the M&S archive exhibition, Marks in Time, at the university, which opens today to celebrate the retailer’s 125th birthday.
M&S started life as a penny bazaar in Leeds Kirkgate Market.
The exhibition will run for three years until the creation of the permanent archive.
M&S chairman Sir Stuart Rose said “M&S has always been at the cutting edge of product innovation and has changed how people shop. We have a long heritage of giving something back to the community.”
The exhibition will also tour 125 M&S stores and has a dedicated website.
M&S will also launch a vintage roadshow which will tour the UK and urge people to bring in iconic M&S items they have bought over the years.
Rose said “It will be like the Antiques Roadshow for M&S customers. We are hoping to unearth some real gems and some of them will go into the M&S archive.”
Rose made the announcement at a dinner to celebrate M&S’ 125th birthday at Leeds University last night. The event was attended by current and past M&S staff, suppliers and local politicians ahead of the exhibition launch today.
Rose added that the M&S had raised £500,000 for local charities via its 125 Charity Challenge scheme. Some of the money was raised via its penny bazaar event, which saw it sell a number of products for 1p last month. That figure is expected to rise to £750,000 by next week.