M&S archive achieves industry-first accreditation

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The M&S Company Archive in Leeds has been recognised as one of the leading in the country by the Archive Service Accreditation Committee, just six years after opening its doors to the public and only a few months shy of welcoming its 100,000th visitor.

The coveted Archive Service Accreditation is the UK quality standard which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery. It positions the M&S Company Archive amongst the top five per cent of all archives in the UK, and secures M&S as the first-ever retailer to achieve such a standard.

With another year of exciting projects and events in the pipeline, Katharine Carter, M&S company archivist, explained what the accreditation means to the team behind the success: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been recognised as one of the top archives in the country. M&S has such a rich heritage, particularly in its hometown of Leeds, so it’s fantastic to be able to share and utilise that in such a positive way. Whether that’s working with the wider business to develop innovative new products, supporting learning and development with students and school children, or engaging with local community groups and visitors to the public exhibition, we take great pride in playing our part.”

The National Archives assessors were particularly impressed by the Archive’s outward-looking approach and the value it has delivered to the wider M&S business. They also commented on the strong links formed with the community and successful collaborative work with its partners, including The University of Leeds. Chair of the Archive Service Accreditation Committee, Bruce Jackson added, “The service exemplifies how a business archive can balance outreach and engagement with corporate goals, and the Archive team deserve congratulations on their success and achievements.”

The M&S Company Archive, which is based at the University of Leeds’ Michael Marks Building and welcomes 17,000 visitors a year, exists to celebrate and utilise M&S’ rich heritage for the good of the business, its customers and the wider community. It houses a collection of over 71,000 historic items charting the development of the iconic British retailer, from its beginnings as a Penny Bazaar market stall at Kirkgate Market in Leeds, to national high street retailer.

In addition to the permanent public exhibition, Marks in Time, which celebrates the role that M&S has played in peoples’ lives since 1884, the Archive also hosts a series of events and talks, and runs an award-winning schools programme. The Spring Summer 2018 events programme has just launched and includes a range of exciting events, from vintage fashion shows to Heritage Open Days.

2018 will see the Archive welcome its 100,000th visitor, so members of the public are being encouraged to keep an eye on the Archive’s Twitter account for updates on a special gift for the milestone visitor.