Business Abroad: The Paper Purge

In 1884, when young Michael Marks, a Polish immigrant to England, opened a stall in the marketplace at Leeds, Yorkshire and began selling needles, thread, thimbles, etc. for a penny each, he refused to keep any paper records. Now, 75 years later, his penny bazaars, under his son, Sir Simon Marks, have grown into Marks & Spencer (237 stores), Britain's most prosperous retail chain, with annual sales of $420 million. Despite the chain's size, Sir Simon last week was in the middle of a retailing experiment to see if he could do as his father did—run his vast enterprise...

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