(1888–1964). Marks was the son of Michael, a Russian Jewish refugee, who began penny bazaars in Leeds market. Born in Leeds, Simon attended Manchester Grammar School, where he formed a lifelong friendship with Israel Sieff, subsequently brother-in-law and business partner. Michael, with Thomas Spencer as partner, expanded the penny bazaars into the clothing and textile retail chain of Marks & Spencer. It was not until after the First World War that Simon consolidated the Marks family control and with Sieff adopted policies to expand the company. They established stores with a distinctive style, emphasizing light and hygienic surroundings, value for money to customers through quality and standard of design, together with a strong policy of welfare for staff. Between the world wars, Marks & Spencer diversified into food. However clothing and textiles remained important and in 1960 the firm supplied 10 per cent of all such purchases in Britain. In the later 1990s however increasing competition, particularly in clothing, caused difficulties and the value of M&S shares fell.
From The Oxford Companion to British History in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: British History.