Marks & Spencer Transforms Retail with Plan A

 

Not long ago, on-line shopping was viewed as transforming retail.  The bigger impact comes from the web sustainability is weaving through every part of the industry’s system.  One of the UK’s leading retailers, Marks & Spencer also leads the way in redefining retail for the 21st Century and beyond. 

Robert Swannell, Marks & Spencer’s (M&S) Chairman, views sustainability not as a program, but as “absolutely fundamentally” how the company does business.  And, it makes business sense – or in this case – pounds.  $70 million pounds in profit from the company’s 2010-2011 fiscal year was attributed to sustainability on revenues of £9.7 billion ($15.7 billion).

M&S launched their sustainability program “Plan A” in January 2007, with 100 commitments to achieve in 5 years. Learning much in the past few years, they’ve now expanded Plan A to 180 commitments to achieve by 2015, with the ultimate goal of becoming the world's most sustainable major retailer. Through Plan A, M&S works with customers and suppliers to on seven pillars where they can make the biggest impact:

  1.  Involve our customers
  2.  Make Plan A how we do business
  3.  Climate change
  4.  Waste
  5.  Natural resources
  6.  Fair partner
  7.  Health and wellbeing

 

The company’s 180 commitments reach throughout store and fleet operations, farming practices, animal welfare, healthy food, volunteerism, diversity, product design, manufacturing and consumer behavior.  Here are just a few Plan A initiatives:

  • Teaming up with Oxfam to Recycle Clothing: M&S rewards customers with a £5 voucher for recycling unwanted clothing.  Oxfam, the beneficiary of the donated clothing has raised £3.3 million by reselling them.
  • Selling energy and energy-efficient products: M&S now sells energy in addition to clothing and food.  Customers save energy and money and receive store vouchers and energy-saving advice and M&S tries to sell them energy-efficient appliances and home insulation. Employees are offered free energy monitors and insulation for their homes.
  • Selling carbon-neutral undies:  These bras and undies are made in an energy-efficient factory in Sri Lanka.  M&S also offsets the CO2 generated by manufacturing and shipping by planting 6,000 trees in Sri Lanka, including lime and mango trees intended to generate income for farmers.

 

Through sustainability initiatives M&S has saved money and increased revenues by becoming more efficient.  Total carbon emissions are down by 13% since 2006, even though the company has grown. M&S recycles 94% of its waste and generates 54% of its energy from renewable sources. It gets 90% of its wild fish and 76% of its wood from sustainable sources.

M&S calls this approach Plan A because they believe it is the only way to do business - because there is no Plan B.

Explore the M&S Plan A commitments for 2010 - 2015 (PDF).

About Marks & Spencer:  M&S, the UK’s largest clothing retailer and a major seller of food products operates about 1,000 stores, employs some 78,000 people and serves about 21 million customers each week. The company sources products responsibly from 2,000 factories and 20,000 farms around the world.

http://plana.marksandspencer.com/about 

Check out the sustainable apparel coalition: http://www.apparelcoalition.org/

Plan A

Home Page Teaser: 
Not long ago, on-line shopping was viewed as transforming retail. The bigger impact comes from the web sustainability is weaving through every part of the industry’s system. One of the UK’s leading retailers, Marks & Spencer also leads the way in redefining retail for the 21st Century and beyond.

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