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Commitments and targets

Plan A is a multi-year sustainability transformation plan that has been updated several times (2010, 2014 and 2017) to reflect the evolution of our business and the risks and opportunities that social and environmental issues pose for us.

The business transformation programme aims to return M&S to sustainable, profitable growth and to deliver long-term value for all stakeholders. Our priority in 2019/20 has been to evolve Plan A to reflect our new operating model and to embed the programme into the core strategy rather than continuing to exist in parallel with our operations. Over the past year we have:

  • Begun the transition to a new Plan A operating model to embed sustainability into our business units.

  • Conducted a detailed review of Plan A considering the views of colleagues, customers, shareholders, pressure groups and campaign bodies, and conducted a benchmarking exercise against the wider consumer goods and retail sector.

  • Created a simplified framework that:

    • Is aligned to the business strategy;
    • Has clear deliverables owned and actioned by each business unit;
    • Maintains our position as a committed sustainable retailer; and
    • Provides a programme to build competitive advantage in selected areas and to engage our customers on the issues that matter to them.

Towards the end of this process, the business’s focus was rightly on managing the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on colleagues, customers and communities – particularly the most vulnerable and healthcare workers. Therefore, confirmation of Group level governance and sign-off of targets will now be completed in 2020/21. 

Supplementary information detailing our performance on a range of environmental and social issues is included in our 2020 Plan A report.


Sustainability is core to the M&S brand and the Plan A framework brings together individual business unit strategies into a shared programme to engage our customers and enable us to report on performance at Group level. The CEO has ultimate accountability for sustainability in M&S and the managing directors of the business will have responsibility for setting new performance metrics to drive behavioural change and ensure their business operates in a more sustainable way. The Executive Committee, as M&S’s senior leadership team with responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the business, will be accountable for the whole programme in addition to compliance with M&S policies and regulations to help drive change and a more sustainable future for M&S.

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.