We aim to enhance the lives and support the local communities of the people who work for and with us. We’re committed to sourcing responsibly and we work closely with our suppliers to make sure they respect human rights, promote decent working conditions and improve sustainability across our supply base.
All sites used by suppliers of Retail Products and M&S Controlled Raw Materials (‘A List’) including processing and packing sites must be registered on the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex)
is the largest collaborative platform for sharing ethical supply chain data. Each must be linked to M&S Food on the system and have completed in full the Sedex
Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) modules on labour standards, health and safety, environment, and business ethics.
All new sites supplying into M&S must have registered on Sedex
, completed the SAQ modules in full, and have had a valid audit prior to production starting.
Audit frequencies for existing sites are assigned by M&S and can range between every 2 and 4 years depending on the nature of the supplier and location.
Certain suppliers (e.g. suppliers of dairy products, wine, produce, and hardware) are risk assessed for audit requirements. For small suppliers (fewer than 30 workers) we may also chose to take an alternative approach to requiring a full audit which entails an interview with an independent specialist to identify key risks and improvement opportunities.
We require audits to be done on a semi-announced basis within an audit window of 3 weeks or longer. We do however reserve the right to conduct unannounced audits. Audits must be undertaken by one of our approved audit providers and suppliers must inform them that M&S is their customer to ensure our requirements are met.
We will also accept second party SMETA audits
undertaken by individuals who have completed the IRCA
registered 3 day auditing course and had 2 successful witnessed audits.
Regardless all audits must be uploaded onto the Sedex
platform and must be visible to M&S within 5-10 working days of the audit taking place.
Based on the results of the audit, suppliers are assigned a rating based on the number and severity of issues raised, as follows:
|Grading ||Minor ||Major ||Critical |
|Red ||10+ ||10+ ||1 or more |
|Bronze||10+ ||4-9 ||0 |
|Silver ||4-9 ||1-3 ||0 |
|Gold ||0-3 ||0 ||0 |
With the exception of the following fire safety issues (which we consider as critical rather than major) we use the SMETA Non-Compliance Guidance
to assess the severity of issues:
- No locked or blocked aisles/exits preventing use
- Firefighting equipment inaccessible, insufficient, unusable or wrong type or no training on its use
- No fire alarm
- No evacuation procedures, drills or training
- No, or adequate, functioning emergency lighting
- Systematic failures in health and safety systems
We also require all sites with more than 50 workers to have in place an elected worker committee or trade union.
Tracking of Ethical Non-compliance Issues
We actively track and follow up on our suppliers’ progress towards what they’ve agreed to address within their Corrective Action Plans as shown in the table below.
Table 1: Number of sites and workers on Sedex and location of audits (M&S Food Direct Suppliers and 'A List' Sites) - 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020
Audited Supplier sites
Workers at supplier sites
Improvement Required per audit