Marc Bolland

Chief Executive Officer

Plan A is at the heart of our ambition to become a sustainable, international multichannel retailer. It is a vital part of how we run our business.

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Marc Bolland

Plan A is at the heart of our plans to become a sustainable, international, multi-channel retailer. It’s become a vital part of how we run our business, as well as helping us to maintain high levels of customer trust and employee engagement.

But I believe Plan A should represent more than a better way of working; it should materially improve our customers’ and partners’ experience of M&S. It should inspire and engage the millions of people who visit our shops worldwide each week by helping us deliver our core purpose.

And our core purpose is simple: Enhancing lives. Every day.

People continually demand more of us. They understand that quality of life is not simply related to ‘quantity of stuff’ but to quality of experience. They want us to create value for society as well as for our shareholders. They demand that our products and services deliver lasting benefits as well as short-term gratification. They believe that everyone has the right to enjoy life now and in future, but not at any cost. They expect us to enhance their lives in the broadest sense.

Plan A is at the heart of how we are meeting our core purpose. Once again, we have made 100 Plan A commitments comprising of existing, revised and new targets with our sights set on significant progress in the next few years, we’re calling this refreshed version ‘Plan A 2020’.

We know we can’t deliver Plan A 2020 alone. That’s why we’re stepping up our efforts to ‘lead with others’ by participating in broader coalitions to deliver sector-wide change.

Networks of like-minded businesses working with society and government can make a bigger difference. As our business becomes more international so our ability to lead with others on a global scale grows. Our work with the Consumer Goods Forum and the World Economic Forum are good examples. Closer to home we’ve helped create the Movement to Work scheme to help thousands of UK businesses deliver 100,000 youth employment opportunities.

I’m incredibly proud to see how Plan A has motivated colleagues, suppliers, customers and their communities to work together. I want to thank them all for helping us get this far and I look forward to continuing the journey with them. I also want to thank our remarkable external Advisory Board for continually challenging us to be bold in our ambitions and in our actions.

Marc Bolland

Chief Executive Officer
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Mike Barry

Director of Plan A

This report launches a new set of Plan A commitments. It represents another step along our journey towards becoming a sustainable business.

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Mike Barry

This report launches Plan A 2020 which consists of 100 new, revised and existing commitments. Plan A 2020 represents another step along our journey towards becoming a sustainable business.

This part of our journey is all about engagement. The shift to new sustainable business models will only be completed with the strong support and participation of the vast majority of our customers, employees and business partners. Innovations in technology and manufacturing will continue to matter but not as much as the need to explain why change is necessary, possible and ultimately better for everyone.

For the first time we’ve also started to formally include our International operations in Plan A.

We’ve always been clear that Plan A is a long term journey. The Plan A of 2007 and the update of 2010 were groundbreaking in the breadth and scale of the commitments we made to tackle the social and environmental impact of our business.

Whilst the health of the economy has waxed and waned around us we have never wavered in our determination to deliver these commitments and we are immensely proud of our progress to date. But for all that we have achieved so far, we know in practice it’s just our apprenticeship for building a truly sustainable business. There is so much more to do.

How we think about supply chains, customers, transparency and business models is evolving fast.

Risks are getting more complex, for example, the interaction between food, water and energy. These interactions defy simple standard setting. We can never have enough standards to cover every social and environmental issue, every interaction between them, every country and community in which they occur. Instead we need our employees and people working in our supply chains to see Plan A not as a matter of compliance but as a way of working that delivers social, environmental and economic benefit. You don’t need a standard to tell you do it – it’s simply good business practice, a modern way of working.

Our customers don’t want just an ethical range in the corner of the store. They expect a simple brand promise from us that we will strive in everything we do, every product we sell, to offer the most sustainable option possible. Transparency is also becoming an ever more important issue for them. It’s not enough to be trusted today you have to earn trust, repeatedly. Not by overwhelming consumers and stakeholders with information for information’s sake but through being clear about what you stand for, how you are performing and how you respond when your standards are not met.

We also know that many of our customers and employees see environmental and social issues predominantly through the lens of their immediate lives. Before we talk about the whole planet we need to show how we’re helping them improve their local neighbourhood, not just in London but in Shanghai, Mumbai and Paris too.

We’ve been working hard with our International business to roll out Plan A in the more than 50 countries where we have retail businesses. We cannot treat this roll out as a standard set in London to be complied with elsewhere. We have to build the local capacity in our teams to work with their customers, employees and stakeholders on what matters to them locally. Plan A as a global framework but with local application.

We believe that the ability to source, control and recover finite and ever more costly resources is becoming a powerful source of competitive advantage and new approaches built around the circular use of resources and radical de-materialisation are required.

All these changes mean we have to innovate harder and be bolder. Not looking for iterative change but step change. Creating new sustainable business models that put the consumer at their heart, clear in their benefits for the purchaser as much as planet and society. But if there is one overarching lesson we draw from the first seven years of Plan A, it’s one of humility. We won’t change the world alone; in fact we can’t even change our own business alone. Whether it’s sending a consistent message on sustainability to global commodity producers or ensuring consumers are offered a sustainable approach to consumption across the marketplace, normalising it as the default way to buy, we know that the importance of partnership is growing.

We’ve developed Plan A 2020 with these changing risks and opportunities in mind knowing that a truly sustainable retail model of the future will look very different to what we have today and we believe Plan A 2020 will enable us to develop a practical way of getting there.

We have always made Plan A one of the ways we do business. Going forward we’re embedding it even further into our business by putting it at the heart of the four principles which will guide all that we do at M&S:

  1. Inspiration – We aim to excite and inspire our customers at every turn
  2. Intouch – We listen actively and act thoughtfully
  3. Integrity – We always strive to do the right thing
  4. Innovation – We are restless in our aim to improve things for the better

To coin a phrase, engagement, engagement, engagement, of our customers, our employees and everyone who partners with us.

Plan A started out in 2007 as a technical initiative, shaped around themes such as climate change and waste. These meant a lot to opinion formers but felt distant from our customers and employees.

Plan A 2020 is a business plan, focused on customer, employee and supplier engagement. By aligning social and environmental outcomes with our business goals in this way we believe we can deliver greater value for all and achieve our goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer.

Mike Barry

Director of Plan A
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Plan A 2020 our new pillars






We aim to excite and inspire our customers at every turn.

We will inspire our customers with products, services and experiences that are both desirable and sustainable. We will encourage them to participate in activities with us, enabling them to support their local communities and live healthier, more rewarding lifestyles. We will influence other businesses in our sector to be more sustainable, helping them to follow our lead.

Pillar commitments:

- Inspiring our customers
– Inspiring other organisations

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Highlights this year


Garments shwopped by customers
(last year 3.8m)


Customers engaged digitally
with Plan A since 2011


We listen actively and act thoughtfully.

We will create a deeper connection with our employees, our suppliers, our customers and their respective communities through more open dialogue. We will launch a Global Community Programme to help strengthen livelihoods and create resilience across our value chain. We will ensure every M&S store contributes positively to its local community. We will lead a Movement to Work to tackle the growing challenge of youth unemployment. And we will provide our employees with the skills to grow our business sustainably and make Plan A as relevant internationally as it is in the UK.

Pillar commitments:

– Breaking barriers to work
– Employee skills
– Employee diversity
– Employee wellbeing
– Global livelihoods
– M&S local

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Highlights this year


Young people offered work experience in Make Your Mark


Workers trained in our General Merchandise supply chain since 2010


of senior management roles held by women


of M&S employess are under 25 years of age


We always strive to do the right thing.

We will lead our sector in sustainable consumption and production, offering our customers good value, high quality products and services, sold through an efficient multi-channel operation. We will produce our products with integrity – our aims are to use the most sustainable raw materials available and to work with factories operating to the highest environmental and social standards. We will continue our journey to ensure every M&S product we sell has an aspirational Plan A story to tell, based on a transparent value chain and comprehensive reporting.

Pillar commitments:

– Sustainable products
– Sustainable raw materials
– Sustainable manufacturing
– Transparency and traceability
– Effective reporting

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Highlights this year


Of M&S products have a
Plan A quality (last year 45%)


Of M&S food products from factories meeting our Silver sustainability standard


Of palm oil in M&S products RSPO certified


Of our clothing suppliers who have appeared in our top 100 since 2011 have introduced energy efficienct best practices


We are restless in our aim to improve things for the better.

We will redefine retail by investing in innovation, making our stores, operations and value chains as sustainable as possible. We will prioritise business model innovation and put circular economy models into practice.

We will accelerate our work towards being a zero carbon business and will pilot new approaches to constructing and maintaining our stores, reducing waste and running logistics. We will be quick to learn and adapt along the way and scale up our successes as soon as possible.

Pillar commitments:

– Circular economy in action
– Ideas for the future
– Zero carbon operations
– Building in efficiency

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Highlights this year


Net worldwide carbon emission from M&S and joint-venture operations


UK and RoI operational and construction waste to landfill


UK and RoI improvement in energy efficiency against 2006/07 (after weather adjustment)


UK and RoI reduction in refrigeration and air-conditioning emissions against 2006/07


The new guiding principles of the M&S brand are: Inspiration, Intouch, Integrity and Innovation. Our reputation rests on the quality of our relationships with customers, employees, partners, suppliers and local communities.

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Independent Recognition

Since we launched Plan A in 2007 we have received over 140 awards covering all aspect of sustainability.

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Performance Summary

Full Plan A Report 2014

Annual Report 2014