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Marks & Spencer (M&S) today publishes its 2014 Plan A Report which launches a new, agile and stronger sustainable business plan which extends Plan A across M&S’ international business over the next six years.

Called Plan A 2020, the 100 commitment plan retains and strengthens M&S’ 2015 eco and ethical commitments and includes new commitments that tackle both today’s and tomorrow’s sustainable retail challenges. 

The plan builds on the first seven years of Plan A by extending successful commitments and scaling them across M&S operations worldwide. It further aligns the sustainability plan to M&S’ business plan to be a leading international, multi-channel retailer and includes innovative commitments that are firsts in retail and sustainable business.

Plan A 2020 highlights:
• M&S operations worldwide, not just the UK, now carbon neutral (note 1);
• Launch of a Global Community Programme to increase the scale of the social, environmental and economic benefits of supply chain Plan A projects;
• Make Your Mark extended to help 5,000 young unemployed people by 2016 and Marks & Start employability programme launched in international markets (note 2);
• Sustainable learning stores to be launched overseas and UK stores to be adapted for future climate change challenges;
• Energy efficiency target increased from 35% to 50% per sq ft by 2020;
• UK stores to raise £1 million every year for local charities and plan to raise £20 million for health and well being charities by 2020 (note 3).   

Marc Bolland, Chief Executive of M&S, said: “Plan A is at the heart of our plans to become a sustainable, international, multi-channel retailer. It’s become a vital part of how we run our business and represents a better way of working that materially improves our customers’ and partners’ experience of M&S. Once again we have made 100 commitments comprising of existing, revised and new targets with our sights set on significant progress in the next few years.”

Mike Barry, Director of Plan A, said: “Plan A 2020 is a sustainable business plan focused on customer, employee and supplier engagement. We’ve formally included our international operations in Plan A for the first time and put Plan A at the heart of our business principles. By aligning social and environmental outcomes with our business goals in this way, we believe we can deliver greater value for all and achieve our goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer.”

Plan A 2020 in more detail
Plan A 2020 is a 100 commitment sustainable business plan with four pillars – Inspiration, In Touch, Integrity and Innovation.

Inspiration
Eleven commitments that inspire customers to live a more sustainable lifestyle and encourage other businesses to take a lead on sustainability. This includes developing products that are desirable and sustainable and encouraging M&S customers to take part in eco activities, support their local communities and choose healthier lifestyles. Highlights include:
• Introducing graphic symbols to highlight products with Plan A qualities;
• Helping customers recycle 20 million items of clothing a year;
• Promoting healthy food, working with key external stakeholders to define best practice.
 
In Touch
Twenty-nine commitments that connect M&S employees and suppliers to local communities to improve employment opportunities and create shared value. Highlights include:
• Launching a new set of Global Sourcing Principles with a wider remit including human rights and gender equality;
• Training for top 100 executives in sustainability and ensuring every single one of M&S’ international employees receives Plan A training;
• Ensuring every UK store supports its community by raising funds for a local charity, by taking part in employability programmes and by running events such as Macmillan coffee mornings and beach cleans with the Marine Conservation Society

Integrity
Twenty four commitments that lead the sector in sustainable consumption and production. Covers sourcing products with integrity and operating to the highest environmental and social standards. Highlights include:
• Working with customers and stakeholders to define and deliver leadership on transparency, for example publishing annual list of clothing suppliers across the world;
• Procuring 50% of cotton from sustainable sources by 2020 (note 4);
• Ensuring 75% of all M&S food comes from eco and ethical benchmarked factories by 2020.

Innovation
Thirty six commitments that invest in the products, services and operations of the future. Accelerating M&S’ work to put the circular economy into practice and operate a zero carbon business. Highlights include:
• Ensuring 50% of the energy used in UK and Ireland stores to come from small-scale renewable sources by 2020;
• Reducing UK and Ireland store refrigeration gas emissions by 80% by 2020 (note 5);
• Targeting a 35% reduction in water usage in M&S stores and offices by 2020 (note 6).
 
Plan A achievements 2013/14 in more detail
Well over half of M&S products now have at least one Plan A quality – one year ahead of the 50% by 2015 target. Plan A qualities include Fairtrade, free range, sustainably sourced, made in an eco factory and healthy food. New products added to the list this year included M&S.com bouquets, now delivered in water-free packaging. The airtight seal on the packaging maintains the quality and freshness of the product.  

The launch of Make Your Mark transformed M&S’ work on the issue of youth unemployment last year. 1,450 young (18-24), unemployed people took part with over 1,000 of them going on to find employment within three months of completing the programme. It has also helped create the national Movement to Work scheme to help thousands of UK businesses deliver 100,000 youth employment opportunities.

506,000 people working in the worldwide M&S supply chain have benefitted from training in subjects such as employment rights, basic healthcare and financial literacy and numeracy since 2010. This achieves the target of half-a-million by 2015 a year early.  

M&S became the first retailer to receive the triple award of certification for achievements in carbon, water and waste reduction from the Carbon Trust.

Eighty five of M&S’ top 100 clothing suppliers now operate from eco factories and last year saw a doubling of the number of food factories that supply M&S achieving the ‘Silver’ sustainability benchmark.

96% of wood based materials used by M&S in all M&S operations (including products, marketing and construction) were FSC certified, recycled or from sources that protect forests and communities (last year 88%).

All of the palm oil used in M&S products is now covered by Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil certification and this year M&S purchased 15,000 Roundtable for Responsible Soy (RTRS) credits to cover the same amount of soy used as feed for M&S Oakham chickens.  

Plan A 2007 – 2013
Plan A was launched in 2007 as a 100 commitment, five year eco and ethical plan to transform the way M&S operated and sourced its products. Ninety-four of the original commitments were achieved, five were not achieved and one was deleted due to changes in circumstances. In 2010 Plan A was extended and strengthened with 80 new commitments with 2015 and 2020 deadlines added to the original 100. Since launch Plan A has won 190 awards.

– Ends –

Notes to editors
1 – Carbon neutral commitment extended to 19 owned and operated international markets; 
2 – Marks & Start helps disadvantaged groups including people with disabilities, single parents and those at risk of being homeless by offering work placements at M&S. It is being trialled in France and Greece and is already established in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka;
3 – against a 2006/7 baseline, reduction in 2013/14 was 32%;
4 – cotton sourced to Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) standards, Fairtrade cotton, Organic or recycled. Currently 20% of cotton used in M&S clothing comes from these sources;
5 – against a 2006/7 baseline, reduction in 2013/14 was 68%;
6 – against a 2006/7 baseline, reduction in 2013/14 was 27%.

Further information
Corporate media enquiries –
Daniel Himsworth, Marks & Spencer Press Office, 0208 718 1618
daniel.himsworth@marks-and-spencer.com

Consumer media enquiries –
Liz Williams, Marks & Spencer Press Office, 0208 718 6087
liz.williams@marks-and-spencer.com