20 September, 2017

Golden Milestone in Belfast

It’s 1967. The original Summer of Love. Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair) has just spent four weeks at number one. And on Thursday the 7th of September, our Belfast store opened its doors at Donegal Place in the city centre.

This was a milestone in Marks & Spencer history, as it was the first store to open in Northern Ireland. At the time, the Belfast store was the most publicised M&S opening ever. An estimated 120,000 people visited the store on the first day. People came from all over Northern Ireland, some even made the trip from Dublin and Galway to see the new store. Two weeks later 200 VIP guests gathered at a special reception to mark the opening, including the Governor and Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

Now another milestone has been reached, as we celebrate 50 years in Northern Ireland. As Ryan Lemon, M&S head of region Northern Ireland, explains: "For 50 years, M&S has been at the heart of local communities across Northern Ireland, growing from one Belfast store in 1967, to 20 locations across the province. This year, as we celebrate our milestone anniversary, it is important for us to give back to our community, and offer a helping hand to those in need."

To mark the 50th anniversary, we took on the ambitious task of hosting 50 ‘Making Every Moment Special in the Community’ projects across the region – with staff from all 20 stores taking part. The occasion is also being marked with a pop-up exhibition in the Donegal Place store - featuring vintage M&S fashions, fascinating facts and fabulous photos.

Joanne Jones has worked for M&S in Belfast store for 34 years, “There has always been a fantastic buzz in Belfast City Centre, even throughout the Troubles.  Belfast people are very friendly and come through many hurdles together, and it has brought the whole community and store team together like a family.”

Manager, Colin McGreevy has also been with M&S for over 30 years, “It has always been my aspiration to be the Store Manager of Belfast, as I am local to the area.  I am very proud that my customers have been shopping with us for 50 years with a really unique sense of brand loyalty.  Similarly, I am blown away by the loyalty of the staff in store, with many colleagues having over 40 years service.”

It's a proud past – and you could be part of its future. Check out vacancies in Belfast and Northern Ireland here.

Inside M&S