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Dying brands

We still love "legacy" retailers like WH Smith and M&S, but not enough to shop there

By Peter York   May 2005

Our retail legacy is hard-wired into anyone over 20. Boots and Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and WH Smith: the essence of a nation of shopkeepers, as much a part of the unifying British experience as the BBC.

The high street retailers were middle class in a way that included the Pooter classes and the respectable working class. They were ubiquitous and socially responsible before anyone had invented the phrase “corporate social responsibility.” They were family firms founded mainly in the Victorian era—in the mind’s eye, the staff can be seen paraded in front of the branch fascias like a line-up…

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