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.


Add your comment...

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.
Pablo, Liverpool
Sunday 21 June
Marksies used to do the best Corned beef hash but it disappeared off the shelves a few years ago? Also i used to love their mince beef and onion pasties, The newer ones just aren't the same, They're bland and pale in comparison
Aileen Leslie, East Ham, London
Wednesday 7 October
I am trying to find out the year that M & S closed its store in Upton Park (Green Street) London E13...Could someone help me with that info please?
The Archive Team, Leeds
Wednesday 14 October
Hi Aileen, the Upton Park store closed on the 31st January 1981.
Carrie, London
Friday 23 October
M&S used to sell packs of small round chocolate biscuits that were so crunchy (similar to the texture of biscuits used in Fox’s crunch creams). They were so much nicer than the usual Choc Digestive or Hobnobs that you get now. Would love for you to bring them back!
Gae, Wolverhampton
Sunday 29 November
To Carrie, London, I remember those little round chocolate biscuits they were delicious, wish they’d bring them back!
Gaynor, London
Monday 30 November
M&S do still sell the syrup sponge pudding
Adele Aburrow, Chichester
Saturday 12 December
Looking for a turkey and broccoli recipe from the 80's
The Archive Team, Leeds
Tuesday 15 December
Hi Adele, we'd like to help you track down your recipe. Please could you email us at companyarchive@marksandspencer.com with as much detail as possible and we will see what we can do! Many thanks, The Archive Team
Angela , Leeds
Sunday 17 January
Me n grandma went to Marks n Sparks every Saturday 8.10 bus to Leeds from Rothwell we loved it. Gran passed this year at 92, when we ate Saturday lunch it was lasagne in a tin and a choux bun in the 1980s but they don't sell them like they were! Miss the original ones
Maria-José da Silva Calhota, Zürich
Tuesday 23 February
ich war Au-Pair bei Mrs Mikel, Chefin von Marks and Spencer, 1970 - 1974, wer weiss mehr von dieser Zeit?
Archive Team, Leeds
Wednesday 24 February
Vielen dank für ihre e-mail. Ich bedauere dass wir in der Archivsammlung keine informationen über Frau Mikel haben. Mit besten empfehlungen,the Archive team
karen, dorchester
Saturday 3 April
I remember your lemon and raisin cheesecake wedge from the 70's, on a thin sponge base with a solid deep top of claggy cheecake interspersed by the occasional raisin. Any chance you could provide the recipe? or better still bring it back on the shelves, lots of people remember and miss it, there is nothing to compete with it today, sure it would be a highly profitable line.
Carol, Thurrock
Friday 7 May
What happened to the delicious deep filled minced beef pie oval in shape with superb pastry think it was puff pastry?