m&s plan a

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has unveiled a new sustainability programme that it hopes will resonates with both consumers and colleagues as it admits it has previously struggled to communicate its plans to customers.

Plan A 2025 focuses on three key areas: customer and colleague wellbeing; transforming lives and communities; and caring for the planet. It aims to position M&S as a “truly sustainable retailer” through key pledges such as raising £25m for charity, making all M&S packaging ‘widely recyclable’ and getting colleagues to complete 1 million hours of work-time volunteering.

M&S first launched Plan A 10 years ago and the programme has so far made 296 commitments, won 240 awards, and helped the company save £750m through efficiencies such as using less energy and reducing packaging. However, M&S Plan A director Mike Barry admits it has so far struggled to communicate its work and success to consumers.

“We have been working on Plan A for the last 10 years… but we have not yet really cracked the relationship with the customer on it,” he explains to Marketing Week. “Customers have trust in us but it is distant, they assume we are doing [sustainability] but we have not put the detail in front of them.

“In a world of great disruption and change being trusted is even more important. We have built up a slightly paternalistic distant trust and we have to turn that into engaged trust so people can put a finger on…