Marks & Spencer is today celebrating 100 years of serving Scotland by announcing a four-month centenary tour.
The retailer began trading as a 900 sq ft penny bazaar at 40 Murraygate in Dundee during the First World War and has since grown to serve two million customers in Scotland each week, now employing 6,500 people.
It will commemorate its 100-year anniversary north of the Border with a “Centenary Taste Trail” of five Scottish locations.
The trail will profile M&S’s partnerships with more than 40 Scottish suppliers and 4,000 Scottish farms, while exhibiting never-before-seen archive photography of local communities, specially commissioned by the M&S archive, a collection containing some 71,000 items dating from 1884 to the present day.
M&S described the taste trail as a “family-friendly festival of food”, which will offer free food tastings, live music, cooking demonstrations and a children’s play area.
A selection of the retailer’s suppliers will showcase their Scottish produce and tell their “farm to fork” story of food production.
The trail will start touring in Dundee at the end of September, and then stop at Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness before the end of the year.
It will culminate in a final celebration in Glasgow in January, where its Argyle Street store will mark its own 100th birthday.
M&S stores will be dressed up in Scotland-themed décor from today and its food hall aisles will be specially stocked with Scottish goods for the next two weeks.
David Bates, regional director for M&S in Scotland, said: “We are extremely proud that our roots in Scotland date back to the First World War.
“We have helped countless Scottish businesses to flourish, including being the first retailer to sell Aberdeen Angus beef. This year, we became the first high street retailer to stock colour-changing gin from The Old Curiosity distillery in Edinburgh.
“The fact we have lasted 100 years is down to the support of so many Scottish communities, from the amazing people who work for us to our loyal Scottish customers.”
Bates said the company’s commitment to Scotland was “as firm now as it was a century ago”. He added: “In modern Scotland that means building a supply chain that supports Scottish producers, offering quality jobs to local people, and creating stores for a new type of shopper.
“By staying attuned to what customers need in Scotland we hope to encourage economic growth, support local jobs and be a responsible contributor to the communities we serve for the next century.
“We felt it was important to mark [our suppliers’] contribution to our success during our celebrations.”