Supporting the Bahamas
Working in sourcing for the UK’s biggest Clothing & Home retailer is an exciting job, one that takes me round the world. It’s a very commercial job too – my team & I work with over 50 departments and 10 sourcing offices to ensure we source the best product from the best factories for M&S. But every now and then there’s an opportunity to use our relationships and commerciality for non-commercial reasons – and one’s just happened that I want to share – bras for the Bahamas.
A couple of weeks ago Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas – we all saw the news – it was horrific. A couple of days later we got a call at M&S from The Bahamas Hurricane Restoration Fund. The Fund is an amazing charity organisation of citizens working on the ground in the Bahamas. It was set up in 2015 in response to another hurricane – Joaquin. The team who got in touch explained that many people had lost everything, but in particular there was a lack of underwear, hygiene and sanitary products. None of the aid agencies were able to give it out because the stock just wasn’t there. They had come to us as the UK’s biggest lingerie retailer to see if we could help.
The team quickly got to work and we managed to source over 10,000 pieces of underwear – from our warehouses in the UK and directly from one of our generous suppliers in Bangladesh. We were quick as a team to source and even quicker to fly with the help of our supply chain colleagues – ensuring the stock was flown over to Florida (most clothes go on boats) and the restoration fund took it from there – making sure the bras got to those who needed them.
As the biggest seller of bras in the UK, we know these items aren’t a luxury – they’re a necessity – and our team felt passionate about giving as much as we could and helping women in crisis – even if only in a very small way. The aim of the Fund as their hashtag shows is to restore the Bahamas, and this was our way of playing a small part in that restoration.
Doing the right thing as a big business means long-term sustainable partnerships to help us tackle big problems like climate change, but it also means knowing when you have the right skills or products to step in and make a difference – and whilst we can’t do it every time we were proud we could do it this time. As market leader on bras I’m proud we worked as one team and owned it and got it done to do our bit in the Bahamas.