M&S is ahead of Plan A targets

M&S claims it is ahead of schedule in meeting the targets set out in its Plan A sustainability programme, achieving 60% of the commitments it aimed to fulfil by 2015.  

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The retailer says that 105 of the 180 commitments have been met. It originally targeted 100 by 2012.

The retailer says it is also on track to reach a further 18 commitments next year.

M&S could not comment on Plan A’s contribution to profit over the six months or on the progress of individual pledges but will report on the financial impact of Plan A for 2011/12 and update on all individual commitments in the full year report in June 2012.

In 2010, four years after launch, Plan A contributed around £70m in profit and M&S expects this to continue rising as it integrates more commitments into its business model.

Speaking to Marketing Week ahead of the half year update, Mike Barry, head of sustainable business says Plan A creates value for M&S in three ways: cost savings, staff motivation, and as a brand differentiator – which he says “counts for a lot with consumers”.

He adds that for every £1 invested in Plan A there is an economic return.

It has also opened up new revenue streams for M&S such as entering the energy market, and an innovation funnel that is embedded into every department rather than as part of a centralised CSR team.

“The Plan A trajectory constantly throws up opportunities we didn’t even consider at the start. Plan A is taking M&S to a much more sustainable place but there is a lot more to do. Mark Bolland [M&S CEO] has pushed us to do more about connecting to the consumer as its really important to take on our engagement and wherever you turn in M&S, we’re helping customers to make a difference.”

This June, M&S admitted it was behind on seven Plan A commitments and had made changes to a number of pledges such as organic produce, bio-diesel fuel and free-range pork.

Plan A progress in the past six months:

  • Launch of two major consumer facing Plan A initiatives – Forever Fish and the hanger recycling scheme in partnership with UNICEF.
  • Improvements to stores, manufacturing and supply chain in the UK and overseas with the introduction of dual fuel trucks, water saving technology, better cotton manufacturing and healthier products.
  • Awarded its first “Ethical Excellence” awards to two factories in India that have improved working conditions and salaries and will increase the number of Plan A accredited clothing products that will be in store next year.
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