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Building Partnerships

Partnership has always been at the heart of Plan A. The achievements of Plan A have only been possible because of the many partnerships and relationships with different organisations. This is because, like all businesses, we need outside knowledge and expertise to help us understand what changes are required and how best to achieve them. Some partnerships will be long standing and continually evolve, others may be formed to address specific issues at specific times. We work with organisations who share our values and ambitions to create shared value.

Commitments and targets
Our aim is to work in partnership to achieve shared objectives and mutually beneficial economic, social and environmental outcomes. We are committed to articulating and sharing the benefits resulting from our partnerships. 

Building partnerships is a way of working that cuts across the business, touching many Plan A commitments that can only be delivered with others. 

Approach
We build strong partnerships with organisations on a one-to-one basis, often structured around a particular area of delivery. 

We work openly and constructively with our partners, in line with our values. In new and existing partnerships we are guided by these principles:

Partnership principles info graphic

Our partnerships take many different forms and have different purposes, activity and different delivery outputs and outcomes. 

We have a number of partnerships that enable us to help causes our customers care about. Our work with Breast Cancer Now, Macmillan Cancer Support and Royal British Legion (RBL) are excellent examples where we can make a difference by mobilising financial support for cancer research, cancer care and veterans through selling cause-related products and fundraising with customers and employees. For example, the money raised for RBL helps the organisation to provide mobility grants to veterans which enables the veteran to maintain their independence. The main business benefit for Marks & Spencer from national charity partnerships is the ability to demonstrate our support for causes our customers care about as well as enhance employee engagement, increase footfall and share knowledge.

Some partnerships focus on sharing expertise and insights on specific topics areas where we don’t have specialist knowledge. For example, WWF has worked with us on sustainable fishing, cotton and water risk mapping. WWF has contributed leading scientific knowledge which in turn allows us to source more sustainably and make our supply chains more resilient. We often work with universities, such as the University of Leeds, to harness academic research and thought leadership for innovation and product sustainability. 

Increasingly it’s important for us to build partnerships that help us move towards creating more sustainable business models. Our Shwopping initiative, in partnership with Oxfam, aims to collect unwanted clothing from our customers, which not only diverts textile waste from landfill but also enables Oxfam to sell millions of garments to raise money for people living in poverty. 

The table below describes some of the benefits resulting from a selection of our social and environmental partnerships

Effective partnerships
We strive for our partnerships to be as effective as possible. Increasingly, we are looking at how our partnerships help to deliver against specific outcome areas:

  • Demonstrating the business case for and a progressive approach to responsible business
  • Engaging in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help the world move to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy
  • Eliminating deforestation from the use of key commodities in the production of products by 2020
  • Improving the sustainability of consumer products and championing a common global approach to product sustainability
  • Accelerating the transition to a sustainable circular economy
  • Enhancing the lives of people and communities
It’s important for time and resource to be used efficiently and for maximum benefit for all involved. We are introducing a structured process to help us manage our partnerships and enable us to identify the benefits and shared value created as a result of working together. Together with our partners we assess and openly discuss how well the partnership is performing across a range of criteria, including:

  1. Partnership objective / shared vision
  2. Inputs (time and cash)
  3. Activities and achievements
  4. Communications and other outputs
  5. Societal value
  6. Business value
  7. Any improvements that could be made
  8. Overall strength of relationship
  9. Future opportunities
  10. Action Planning / next steps
Key documents

Find out about our approach to collaborative working


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Find out about our approach to advocacy on public policy and thought leadership


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