A few years back Marks and Spencer were desperately floundering but thanks to Stuart Rose and a whole bunch of forward-thinking ideas they are once again on the up and have the Women's Institute to thank for their success. Over 800 members were consulted as part of a focus group which helped shift M&S' focus towards better quality fabrics and up-to-the-minute fashions, a spokesman for the chain said: "They are really keen on being fashionable and that has helped us design new collections."
The Women's Institute is almost 100 years old and was formed to encourage food production and revitalise rural communities during WWI. Since then WI has become the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK and campaigns such issues as third world debt and fair trade. Calendar Girls, a film based on the WI's successful nude calendar (see picture) was released in 2003.

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