M&S holds launch in Leeds

Despite some logistical challenges, the black-tie dinner to celebrate the opening of the M&S archive in the city where it first began trading was a success.

M&S holds launch in Leeds
M&S holds launch in Leeds

Pre-event planning - High street retailer Marks & Spencer has a corporate archive tracing the brand's history from a penny bazaar stall in Leeds market in 1894 to its current position. The archive holds 70,000 pieces including clothing, toys, advertising material and business papers. Originally housed in London, the retailer decided to return to its roots and relocate the archive within the new Michael Marks Building at the University of Leeds.

To celebrate the opening of the building and showcase the archive's new home, M&S held a black-tie dinner for local businesses, academics and researchers at the Michael Marks Building in March.

Objectives - M&S wanted to preview the facilities available at the archive and the building to local businesses and heritage experts, highlight product innovation and business growth and demonstrate the collaboration between the retailer and the University of Leeds.

The archive is used by academics, businesses and students for research and teaching purposes.

Challenges - Food and drink were not allowed within the exhibition space, so additional venues had to be sourced close to the M&S archive that could accommodate welcome drinks and the dinner.

Solution - To overcome logistical challenges, two extra venues were chosen on the university campus, close to the Michael Marks Building. Pre-dinner drinks were served at Leeds University Business School and the dinner was held in the university's refectory.

Hostesses and events personnel helped to manage a smooth transition for VIP guests between the venues to ensure that there was an opportunity to see the archive. Dressing for the venue was themed around patterns and messages taken from the archive.

Post-event analysis - Extensive media coverage of the event was secured across various channels, indicating the event had helped raise awareness of how the business and academic communities can make use of the archives.

Client verdict - Alison Houston, head of M&S archive project and board performance, says the event was a huge success. "Teams at M&S and the University of Leeds delivered a very impressive event, which showcased the presence of the M&S company archive in Leeds and was a credit to the archive and university," she says.

FACTFILE
Company: Marks & Spencer
Event: Launch of the M&S Archive in Leeds
Group size: 222
Agency: Logistik Group
Date: 15 March 2012
Venue: The University of Leeds

TIMELINE

November 2011: Initial scoping for event and site visit

December 2011: Delegate list finalised

January 2012: Invitations sent out immediately after the New Year break

Mid-February 2012: Site visit and final agreement on logistics

March 2012: Event takes place.

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