Not just any job – why Linda has spent 50 years at M&S in Lowestoft
PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 February 2016
In a world where many people change jobs every few years and even their careers, being loyal to one employer for 50 years is a rare feat.
But for Linda Jackson, this is not just any job...this is an M&S job.
The 65-year-old, originally from south-east London, moved to Lowestoft with her family when she was 13.
“I always wanted to go into retail,” she said. “I love the interaction with people.”
When she finished school aged 15 she went straight to work for the renowned British retailer, starting with a friend who she went to school with on August 2, 1965 as a sales advisor.
Changing role of a shop worker
“I have grown up with M&S,” said Linda Jackson. “I recall that when I started work, I was working behind a flat counter. There would be sweaters and dresses in two colours – navy and maroon – and there would be four sizes. I remember speaking to a lady called Grace when I first started – I asked her how long she had been working here and she said about five years. At the time, when you are 15, I could not imagine that. But I had a lot of in-house training and it is great that the company recognise talent in people and encourage you to do well.” With the London Road North store extended since Mrs Jackson first started work as “the food business grew,” she said: “It has meant learning new things in a developing digital world.”
To begin with, she got about £4 per week - but realising they had a loyal asset, Marks and Spencer soon promoted her to a supervisor whe she was 21.
After taking some time away from work with the birth of her son Simon, she returned to work part-time for nine years before becoming deputy manager and then clothing sector manager - where she has stayed for 22 years.
In that time she has worked with more than 300 people – including 19 store managers – and said: “The team here, we are like a family – we care about one another.
“I have enjoyed watching the store change over the years. My favourite part of the job is speaking to customers on a daily basis and helping them with their shop. I enjoy being able to sell lovely products to people.
“I have seen people come into the store with babies, and these babies have grown up and they come into the shop with their own families. I think we are a small store, but its small and friendly. The customers do look at us as friends.”
Two in-store parties have been held to mark the half-century, while Mrs Jackson will also join other long-serving colleagues from across the UK in London next month for a special champagne reception.
Sacha Berendji, M&S director of retail – who visited the Lowestoft store especially to congratulate Mrs Jackson, along with human resources director Tanith Dodge – said: “We’re proud of her. It’s such an amazing achievement – and so rare.
“Our stores have evolved significantly over the years, but good customer service is still central to everything we do at M&S.”
Lowestoft M&S store manager Mark Leftley added: “For me, one of the our business values is inspiration. Linda Jackson has been absolutely inspirational for me and her colleagues.”
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