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Commitments and targets

We're committed to helping to build a sustainable future by being a business that enables our customers to have a positive impact on wellbeing, communities and the planet, through all that we do. 

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 2020/21 has been to embed Plan A into our business operating model as a family of accountable businesses, putting sustainability into the heart of their commercial plans. Over the past year we have:

  • Delivered on our customer promise of trusted value; for example we launched our most sustainable denim range yet in spring 2021 – finished with 86% less water, kinder chemicals and 100% responsibly sourced cotton. 
  • Found better solutions for challenges faced by our customers and colleagues; for example through the collaborative efforts of our colleagues in Food and Retail we delivered a 120% increase in food redistribution and rolled out a new digital app to all our food stores.
  • Taken a leadership position on the issues that matter most to our customers, supporting our commitment to the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact. 
  • Formed commitments to tackle the biggest sustainability challenges facing business, our society and our planet. 

Alongside this, 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. We played our part in feeding the nation, distributing more than 11.8 million meals to those most in need, launched new digital services such as Sparks Book & Shop to make shopping safer and collectively raised over £8.3m for NHS Charities Together through our M&S Rainbow sale.

Full information detailing our performance on a range of environmental and social issues is included in our 2021 Plan A report.

Governance

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 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, are 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.

In December 2020, we established a new Board sub-committee on Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG), chaired by Tamara Ingram, to provide a focus and oversight of Plan A across the business

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. M&S is involved in active partnerships globally and locally, including participation and leadership roles within the Consumer Goods Forum and Business in the Community. We are playing our part in industry-wide collaborations and during the year we signed up to the British Retail Consortium’s Climate Action Roadmap and WRAP’s Textiles 2030 alongside our existing support for and WRAP’s Textiles 2030 alongside our existing support for WRAP’s Courtauld 2025 Commitment.