Business: Marks & Sparks Trades Up

"St. Michael "goes for class

Few British institutions have been so determinedly middle class as Marks & Spencer. The company's 254 U.K. department stores, which constitute the country's largest retail chain, sell little that is fashionable or chic; instead, their mainstay is lines of inexpensive and respectably dull (though high quality) sweaters, shirts, bras and lingerie. This value-for-money formula has paid off handsomely: M & S's 14 million weekly shoppers give it annual revenues of $1.9 billion and profits of $184 million, both more than four times those of its largest competitor, British...