Environmental risks and social inequality are making the world more complicated and unpredictable. Customers are increasingly aware of their personal impact on the world and businesses must work hard to build and maintain their trust. Growing pressure on natural resources and poor global stewardship may increase our costs, restrict our access to key raw materials and make our global supply chains more volatile.
Against this backdrop, we’re on a journey to make our business more sustainable. We believe a successful business must also be environmentally and socially sustainable. This belief isn’t new. We’ve always maintained that business practices that benefit society improve our long-term performance.
Over the decades we’ve never stood still. We’ve progressed from philanthropy to community investment and onto corporate social responsibility (CSR). We launched Plan A in 2007 to move away from CSR, towards a more holistic approach that addresses all the sustainability issues affecting our business and supply chains. It is a business plan, designed to equip us for a future in which our success in staying relevant for customers will depend on our ability to deliver exceptional products and services in a world that is increasingly resource constrained and experiencing social change.
Commitments and targets
We are committed to delivering sustainable value for our stakeholders through the high quality, own brand food, clothing and home products we offer in the UK and internationally. Plan A is at the heart of our plans to realise this commitment and become a leading sustainable, international, multi-channel retailer.
Having achieved a number of important commitments in the original version of Plan A - including carbon neutral operations, sending zero waste to landfill and reducing packaging by 25% - we launched Plan A 2020 in 2014. It comprises 100 new, revised and existing commitments. You can find out more about it in our current Plan A report.
Plan A underpins our unique business model which is enabling us to create long-term value through the effective use of resources and relationships. We manage these in line with our core values of Inspiration, Innovation, Integrity and In Touch. These values influence how we behave and they run through everything we do - they make the M&S difference: Making Every Moment Special through the products and services we offer our customers in the UK and internationally.
We’re making Plan A integral to our all aspects of our business. The table below explains how.
We have a robust governance framework in place for Plan A. This ensures effective oversight and decision-making about strategy, performance, responsibility and accountability.
Our Plan A governance structure
|M&S plc Board |
The main Board is updated on Plan A at least once a year.
The Board completes a Group Risk Profile every six months. Key social and environmental risks such as climate change are assessed separately, but are generally considered as contributory factors to wider business risks related to the M&S brand and the continuity of our operations and supply chain.
|Executive Plan A 2020 Committee |
Our Executive Plan A 2020 Committee meets every two months. It ‘owns’ the development and implementation of Plan A and ensures that Plan A is an integral part of the way M&S operates. The committee sits as part of our Corporate Governance Framework
Our CEO chairs the committee, which includes all our Executive Directors as well as senior directors with relevant specialist knowledge and responsibilities. The CEO updates the full Board about the committee’s activities at least once a year.
|Operational Plan A 2020 Committee |
Our Operational Plan A 2020 Committee meets every two months to ensure that sustainability is integrated into the day-to-day management and operations of the business. It reviews our progress against Plan A commitments, and the way in which we manage risks.
Our Director of Plan A chairs the committee, which includes senior directors from key parts of our business plus our Head of Sustainable Business and Head of Global Delivery – Plan A.
|Sustainable Retail Advisory Board |
Our Sustainable Retail Advisory Board meets every 6 months to provide guidance and insights. The Board also challenges us to do even better on our journey to become a more sustainable business.
The Advisory Board includes renowned and respected external sustainability experts. It’s jointly chaired by our CEO and the founding director of Forum for the Future, Jonathon Porritt.
It is important to continually reflect on what we've learnt so far in terms of building a business case for sustainability. We believe surfacing the business case is vital both to reassure businesses that the first steps on the sustainability journey can be rewarding, but also to help build the strategy and structures that capture an even more compelling business case in the future.
We've captured what we've learnt about the business case for sustainability during the first five-years of Plan A which is available to download below.
Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business.
Many Plan A issues are too large or complex for us to tackle alone, so it is vital that we work with others. Our external partners have already provided solutions, improved our understanding of issues, and helped us inspire our customers.
To give just two examples, Oxfam
is helping us encourage clothes reuse and recycling through Shwopping
, while WWF
has helped us tackle environmental issues associated with water, cotton, wood, fish and sourcing of palm oil.
You can find out about many of our other partners and the issues they’re helping us tackle, on this website.