Performance in People - Mystery Shopping


Celebrating the Queens 90th Birthday - The last 90 years of the Great British Brands

Thursday 21st April 2016

The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday today - a milestone that will be marked privately with family and publicly by the nation. Crowds of cheering people lined the streets in Windsor as the monarch took part in a walkabout, and royal gun salutes have been fired from each of the UK's capital cities.

The Queen said: "I send my best wishes to those who are celebrating their 90th birthday... on this shared occasion, I send my warm congratulations to you."

The Queen, who was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh during her tour in Windsor, was presented with a birthday cake at the Guildhall by the Great British Bake Off champion Nadiya Hussain, who had created an orange drizzle cake with a butter cream and marmalade filling.

We’ve taken this opportunity to take a look back at our Great British Brands and the well-known, loved household names that has shaped our retail industry:

John Lewis Group

With an ambitious vision of co-ownership, and of how a business could put the happiness of its employees at the heart of everything it did, and profit by it, John Spedan Lewis left a radical mark on commercial history. The John Spedan Lewis way is as alive today as it was 80 years ago.

The Partnership has over 90,000 Partners who own 45 John Lewis shops (32 department stores, 11 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2), over 300 Waitrose supermarkets, an online and catalogue business -, a production unit and a farm, and share in the benefits and profits of a business that puts them first. To read the full story, click here.

Royal Mail

Royal Mail has a rich and varied history, characterised by a tradition of service and innovation spanning 500 years.

Since Tudor times, our postal network has been connecting families and friends, enabling business and driving innovation across the country.

In 1516, Henry VIII knighted Brian Tuke, the first Master of the Posts. This act was the catalyst for the creation of the Royal Mail we know today. Tuke had the influence and authority to establish key post towns across the country and build out a formal postal network.

From these origins, the postal service has survived 21 monarchs and two World Wars, and employed hundreds of thousands of people. Perhaps its most famous innovation is the Penny Black stamp, introduced in May 1840. As the world’s first postage stamp, the Penny Black paved the way for the prepaid, one-price-goes-anywhere postage system we use today.


Cadbury has been inventing, inspiring and investing in a nation of chocolate lovers for nearly 200 years. In 1824, John Cadbury began selling tea, coffee, and drinking chocolate in Bull Street in Birmingham, England. From 1831 he moved into the production of a variety of cocoa and drinking chocolates, made in a factory in Bridge Street and sold mainly to the wealthy because of the high cost of production. In 1847 John Cadbury became a partner with his brother Benjamin and the company became known as "Cadbury Brothers". Click here to read the full story.

Marks & Spencer

Marks and Spencer is one of the UK’s leading retail brands. It employs over 80,000 people in 500 stores in over 30 countries.

Marks & Spencer started life more than 130 years ago when the Jewish immigrant Michael Marks came to the north of England from his hometown of Slonim, Belarus. He arrived with little money and spoke poor English. Beginning as a pedlar, he soon owned a market stall in Kirkgate Market in Leeds. He classified everything by price, but quickly stopped selling more expensive items when the penny section thrived.

Michael decided to look for a partner to help manage his growing business. He initially approached Isaac Dewhirst, who had loaned money towards his original start-up costs. Isaac declined but recommended Tom Spencer – his senior cashier. Tom agreed, and on 28 September 1894 Marks & Spencer was born.

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