1970 - 1990

By the early 1970s, home freezers were becoming cheaper and more easily available so in 1972 we introduced frozen food including lasagnes and pizzas.

By 1973 convenience food was being sold in 100 Marks & Spencer stores and was a huge hit with the public, later helping to explain the popularity of the microwave. With each meal, our Catering Department decided on a recipe idea and then worked with our suppliers to make it.

Also in 1973, we were the first major retailer to introduce sell-by dates as a guarantee of freshness. A year later Indian and Chinese ready meals were first trialled, although they didn’t really take off until the 1980s. Marks & Spencer was the first major retailer to provide these dishes, which are now a big part of our national cuisine.

lamb-curry_-jan-1985 (ID 1394)

From the mid-1970s suppliers slowly became more involved in design. Marks & Spencer now gave guidelines on up-to-the-minute trends, and Design Briefs were introduced in 1986. Brian Godbold, Head of Design, described the brief as a buyers ‘bible’. Lingerie became more fashionable in the 1980s and even thermals were given a fashion ‘edge’. Co-ordinated underwear sets created ‘looks’ inspired by catwalk trends.

striped-mens-pants-72 (ID 1395)
Microwave Cooking by Jenny Webb was donated by Mrs Gladys Smith, who bought it in 1983

This is a pair of boy’s cotton BMX pyjamas, age 5-6. BMX bikes were a must-have on Christmas present lists in the late 1980s for most children.

In 1979 Marks and Spencer became the first high street retailer in Britian to sell the Chicken Kiev.

Men’s suits have been the focus of much product development, with the first machine washable suit being introduced by M&S in 1987.

This leisure jump suit is nightwear. It dates from 1978 and is made from brushed nylon, a popular fabric for nightwear in the 1970s.

Watch M&S adverts from the 1970s.

Comments

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Louise O'Neil, Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Wednesday 14 June
In the mid-late 1980s M&S used to sell Syrup Sponge dessert in an individual pot with syrup in the bottom, then sponge, then custard (and maybe cream on top, I can't remember). It was absolutely delicious and I've never seen it anywhere else since. It was a perfect end to my packed lunch!! It would be wonderful to experience it again!!
Julia Salter, Cardiff
Tuesday 5 March
My family used to love you spicy chicken pizzas. They were discontinued due to falling sales. I cannot understand this as I had to queue in your Cardiff store when you were expecting a delivery. What happened?
Hazel Scoot, Milton Keynes
Thursday 7 November
I still have my microwave cookbook, it is a bit "splattered" on the lamb and beef pages! I still refer to it often having written additions to some of the recipes.