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We are a major multinational retailer headquartered in the UK. We sell high quality, great value products to millions of customers through our stores in the UK and wholly-owned, jointly or franchised stores in 55 territories across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Environmental risks and social inequality are making the world more complicated and unpredictable. Growing pressure on natural resources and poor global stewardship may increase our costs, restrict our access to key raw materials and make our global supply chains more volatile. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), buildings are thought to be responsible for around one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Organisations with responsibility for property management are increasingly challenged in areas such as health and safety, energy efficiency and use of resources, social responsibility and community engagement.

Our Property Group is responsible for the acquisition, design, procurement, construction and maintenance of our buildings in the M&S estate including stores, offices and distribution sites. Plan A is integral to the way in which we operate and we are working hard to make our buildings more sustainable.

Commitments and targets

We want to be an international multi-channel retailer that leads on sustainability in our sector.

Plan A is at the heart of our ambitions to realise this goal and enable us to fulfil our core purpose of Making Every Moment Special. We are committed to improving the sustainability of the M&S estate which has been underpinned by a number of Plan A commitments relating to property.


Plan A is integral to how we do business and in making our buildings more sustainable we aim to:

  • Adopt a sustainable approach to deliver smarter acquisition and investment decisions;
  • Apply sustainable design and specification principles to new and existing sites;
  • Embed sustainable practices within the procurement of products and services for our estate;
  • Drive sustainable construction through using innovative materials, minimising our use of resources, enhancing our local communities and ensuring full delivery and handover against design expectations; 
  • Improve the efficiency of our buildings through optimising operational performance and promoting sustainable behaviour.

Internationally, we operate within a range of different legislative environments and economic frameworks. As a result, there is myriad legislation that we need to adhere to. For example, in the UK major pieces of legislation include the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, Building Regulations, minimum energy efficiency standards, F-Gas regulations, and of course town and country planning.

We’ve also achieved a number of industry firsts - we were the first retailer to be:

  • Certified to all three Carbon Trust Standards for our achievements in carbon, water and waste reduction
  • Certified to ISO 50001:2011 the international Energy Management Systems standard for our internal energy management systems and processes in the UK and Republic of Ireland
  • Awarded The Wildlife Trust Biodiversity Benchmark in recognition of our efforts at Cheshire Oaks
Since 2010, we have received over 50 awards in recognition of our sustainability accomplishments within the property arena.    


We've adopted a holistic approach to managing sustainability and delivering Plan A in our properties and construction projects which is guided by the following key themes:


Our buildings are created for people – colleagues working in them, customers visiting them and communities surrounding them. We will make sure that people are engaged throughout the lifecycle of our buildings by fostering positive relationships with communities during their development and ensuring they are healthy environments for their users. We will ensure that supply chains involved in the development of our buildings are treated ethically and that they provide opportunity for disadvantaged youth. 

We are committed to working closely with our stakeholders to ensure we have a positive impact on the lives of people and communities.  Community engagement plans are developed for major UK and Republic of Ireland store construction and refurbishment programmes. All major new store developments are required to achieve a defined level of performance against the Considerate Constructors Scheme’s “Respect for the Community section”. We have launched a Youth Employment Toolkit to our supply base to encourage them to support the Movement to Work scheme.

We want to measure the health, wellbeing and associated commercial benefits of our sustainable stores and warehouses. We are sponsoring the World Green Building Council’s Better Places for People Campaign and through this work a series of metrics will be identified and tested on one of our stores.  We are also assessing our direct property suppliers in the UK and Republic of Ireland to ensure that they are working in line with the requirements of our Global Sourcing Principles.

Find out more about our approach to responsible sourcing.


Our energy strategy centres around 3 basic principles: (1) reduce the amount of energy we use within our global built environment; (2) source as much energy as possible from renewable, small scale sources; and (3) work with credible, innovative and world leading partners to offset the energy we have to use and achieve carbon neutrality.

Over the past 8 years, we have been on a journey to transform our business to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We have achieved this through monitoring our energy use, giving each of our stores individual targets to achieve, pioneering new low carbon technologies and investing in energy efficient equipment.

We believe we can make significant savings and improve performance through smarter staff engagement. We’ve introduced our Making Energy Matter Campaign to engage, energise, and reward staff to help us achieve our goals.

We operate in accordance with an M&S Group wide Energy Policy and our energy management systems and processes in the UK and the Republic of Ireland are certified to ISO 50001:2011 the international Energy Management Systems standard.

We source all our electricity in the UK and the Republic of Ireland from renewable sources, a quarter of which are small-scale. We are also making good progress generating renewable energy in our own estate and in 2015 launched the UK’s largest single roof mounted solar panel array at our Castle Donnington warehouse.

In 2014, we became the first retailer in the UK to source biomethane gas, as well as the first FTSE 100 buyer of the Biomethane Certification Scheme.

Since the 1 April 2013, M&S operated and joint-venture stores, offices, warehouses and delivery fleets around the world have been carbon neutral.

Find out more about our approach to climate change.


We want to phase out the use of HFCs in our estate by 2030 and reduce our refrigeration gas carbon emissions by 80% by 2025.

We are a leading supporter of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) objective to reduce the environmental impact of refrigeration. We have a clear plan to begin phasing-out HFC refrigerants and shift to low-carbon refrigeration solutions. We will  report on our progress openly and honestly.

Find out more about our approach to climate change.


We aim to ensure that natural resources are used efficiently in the development, fit-out and operation of our buildings in order to reduce their embodied and operational impacts.  Within our own operations we have taken steps to improve our use of recycled and recyclable materials in the consumable items we use in our stores and offices. We’ve reduced our water consumption through the specification of efficiency measures and eliminating on-site water leakage, and have established sustainability standards for the materials we use for store retrofits and new-builds.

We have developed a Sustainable Designers Guide which sets out our expectations and approach to sustainable thinking and is aimed at helping suppliers understand the environmental impact of design decisions and how they can make a difference.

By 2025, we want all key products and materials used in construction fit out, shop fit, marketing décor and visual merchandise in our UK and Republic of Ireland stores, offices and warehouses to have Plan A attributes that address all priority social, environmental and ethical impacts. 

Find out more about our approach to managing natural resources.   


By reducing, reusing and recycling waste from operational, construction and fit-out activities at M&S, we are able to prevent precious resources from going to landfill, thereby reducing our environmental impact and minimising financial cost.

We have sent zero waste generated from our construction projects, stores, offices and warehouses to landfill in the UK and Republic of Ireland since 2012 - and we aim extend this to our M&S and key franchise operations worldwide by 2025.  We have become leaner in our construction activities by avoiding the over specification of materials we use.  In both our store and construction activities we have segregation practices in place to maximise recycling and have established donation routes to help promote re-use. For example, throughout the Cheshire Oaks building project we sent zero waste to landfill with 87.5% of all waste segregated on site.

Going forward, we will prioritise business model innovation and put the circular economy into practice. Find out more about our approach to waste and the circular economy.


We will trial sustainable technologies and processes, evaluate them, and roll them out at scale and at pace in our built estate, in co-operation with our landlords and within local contexts.

Innovation is one of M&S’s core values and critical to the success of our store environments. In 2010, we committed to building two sustainable learning stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland each year. These stores helped us develop our knowledge of sustainable construction by trialling new technologies and processes which if successful and scalable were rolled out across our property portfolio. For example, since our Ecclesall Road Simply Food store opened back in April 2011 we’ve been assessing the performance of its sustainability features and some of these have now been rolled out to the wider estate including: heat reclaim in a further 18 stores, LED lighting in a further 120 stores and green living walls in a further 10 stores. 

Cheshire Oaks – our multiple award winning largest ‘green’ store – has set new standards for retail developmentand has become a real legacy success story for M&S, our suppliers and the construction industry as a whole. 

Although building new learning stores are useful we have hundreds of older stores across the UK and around the world. Our focus is now to ‘retrofit’ Plan A innovations into existing stores with the intention of rolling out at scale. In many ways retrofitting existing stores is more challenging than building new ones. For example, the diversity of our properties in terms of age, use, materials, location, orientation, build type, quality and so on, means that innovations need to be tailored to the particular property. 


We are exploring how Building Information Modelling (BIM) can help facilitate ‘lean’ construction and help us reduce site waste and enable precise use of materials and trialling off-site construction/modular build techniques. For instance, we believe most of the fit-out of our stores could actually be undertaken using off-site methods – everything from wall systems, with integrated doors and pre-plumbed services, to bakeries, delis, cafés, toilets, high-level services and packaged plant. 

We are also incorporating environmental leasehold clauses into new leases with our landlords covering energy, water and waste to encourage closer working relationships on mutual sustainability goals. 

Future Proof

In designing, building, refurbishing and operating properties, we need to be mindful of future climatic changes and costs to ensure that our buildings remain fit for their purpose within the context of their locality.

Making sure that the built environment is efficient and enjoyable for users is imperative not just in the present but for the whole life of our buildings. Climate resilience and adaptation is a key consideration for all store retrofits and new-build projects.

Future climate risks include energy management (increased demand for energy for cooling and security of supply), internal store environment (staff and customer comfort levels), water management (flooding and drought) and building fabric (wind/storms).

We have reviewed how our stores cope in hot weather to identify opportunities to optimise the units for hot days, enhance energy efficiency and save money. We plan to install building fabric solutions in 20 stores at high risk of climate-related weather events, to improve our resilience to climate risks by 2025.

We adopt a whole-life-cost approach to financial decision making, so that we are minimising our costs over the lifetime of an asset. In addition to considering upfront capital costs, we also consider lifetime costs including: lifecycle replacement, maintenance, cleaning, energy, water and carbon cost.

Find out more about our approach to climate change. 

Working with others

Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business.

A large number of organisations are supporting the delivery of our Plan A commitments relating to property. For example, we are working with the World and UK Green Building Councils and Considerate Constructors Scheme to ensure we have a positive impact on the lives of people and communities. Through the Consumer Goods Forum we are supporting the phase-out of HFC-refrigerants. We are also working with a number of organisations such as Arup, AECOM, BRE, Oxford University, RT Target and Simons and AB Group to develop and trial new innovative tools and ways of working.

Operationally, DS Smith and Helistrat are helping us maintain our zero waste to landfill goal and the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex), PICS, and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) are helping to shape our approach to supply chain assurance.