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In September we shared our roadmap to net zero and reset our longstanding Plan A programme to have a singular focus on delivering this goal across our entire supply chain and products by 2040.

Hitting this ambitious target would see us reach net zero scope 3 a full decade ahead of Government’s UK wide strategy and will require us to transform how we make, move and sell our products to customers and fundamentally change the future shape of the business.

As Group Treasurer, I’m perhaps not the most obvious candidate to be one of our 100 colleague carbon champions. But change of this scale means everyone has a part to play and climate conversations can’t be the reserve of ESG specialists in a distant corner

Our champion roles span buying and design through to HR and central operations as we seek to build the carbon literacy of colleagues across M&S and drive change in our everyday ways of working. Sustainability decisions are now business decisions, and we need to be equipped to identify the carbon related risks and opportunities that lie ahead. 

The investment community is already highly attuned to the long-term risks climate change poses to the economy and in my carbon champion role, it means understanding how treasury and the wider finance function can support the net zero transition, as well as maximising the benefits sustainable finance can bring to M&S.

Sustainable finance is quickly gaining traction as it highlights the financial, as well of societal, benefits, of net zero adoption. This week, we have agreed a new £850m revolving credit facility, directly linked to the delivery of net zero targets. 

This is a first for M&S and brings to life the role finance plays in the move to a more sustainable, lower carbon economy. Put simply, sustainability linked loans like our new credit facility, are designed to reward borrowers for delivering measurable improvements in environmental impact.

In our case, we worked with the expert sustainability team at BNP Paribas to structure our credit facility to support the rapid decarbonisation required in our business. Under the terms of our new credit facility, which will run to June 2025, M&S will benefit from a discounted interest rate for delivery against four metrics that deliberately focus on material emissions hotspots and areas of customer concern – namely zero deforestation, sustainable fibre sourcing, packaging reduction and reducing our property emissions. 

As you can see in the graphic below, they cover four of the ten issues set out in our net zero roadmap and importantly, incentivise change across the M&S group, spanning Food, Clothing & Home and Property. 

This is just the first step in moving towards a more sustainable financing framework and, as a function that influences every part of the business, I look forward to the meaningful role finance can play in making net zero a reality. M&S has been built on a belief that doing right by the planet is not just good citizenship, it’s good business and by putting Plan A at the heart of our financing and investment decisions we can build an M&S that is more resilient and efficient as part of a sustainable future.