For consumers, Marks and Spencer has long had an image of cosiness and reliability - an image which hasn't always won it much new custom, particularly among younger consumers.
But for its workers, that image of cosiness and security has been all-important in bringing predictability to their working lives.
It has an important place in the hearts of NI shoppers as it was the first big UK multiple to open up here back in 1967.
Its golden anniversary was celebrated in 2017, with one woman who'd queued for the opening of the first store at Donegall Place making an appearance again.
Such jubilation is now in short supply at M&S or any retailer of its scale. M&S's business model has already been massively disrupted by the challenges of online shopping and competition from discounters like Lidl.
That led it to take the massive step of buying into online grocer Ocado.
Covid-19 has upended everything even more, prompting M&S to deploy staff in different ways. Instead of his usual role on womenswear, a staff member might have found himself redeployed to tills in the M&S food hall to provide cover for a colleague who's off.
Now M&S has realised it can make do with fewer staff - which means that some one-time jobs for life may have a faster end than anticipated.
However, the company has stressed that it hopes to achieve the job cuts by voluntary redundancy.
M&S had already been under immense pressure pre-pandemic, and the pressures it has brought have forced the company to press the fast-forward button.
Marks & Spencer stores in Northern Ireland are likely to be affected as the retail giant announced that some 7,000 jobs are being axed as part of a further shake-up in the face of the coronavirus crisis.