M&S places the customer at the heart of Plan A

British department store group Marks & Spencer says that "good progress" has been made on its eco and ethical programme in Plan A. According to its new report, published on Thursday, M&S was able to see 22 commitments achieved during 2015/2016 and made further progress on engaging its 32 million customers with its Plan A.

The department store has released its first report under its new CEO Steve Rowe, who pledges to involve customers even more with Plan A, by placing them at the heart of the plan. "We are putting customers right at the heart of our business. That includes Plan A as much as any other part of our business and that’s why Plan A is now part of our customer and marketing team," said Steve Rowe, Marks & Spencer Chief Executive in a statement.

M&S places the customer at the heart of Plan A

"It is a crucial part of how we engage with our customers, gain their trust and make every moment special for them. We know that Plan A is a win-win approach – a simpler, more efficient, less wasteful business is better for the planet and our bottom line – so we’ll chase that even harder." Since launching Plan A, M&S has ensure that nearly three quarters (73 percent) of all its products have either a eco or ethical quality, up since 64 percent last year.

M&S has also managed to improve energy efficiency in UK and Ireland stores and warehouses, reporting a 39 percent decrease in energy usage and cut its water usages by 31 percent in comparison to its usages in 2006/2007. The department store group has also managed to reduce food waste by 9 percent per 1,000 square feet of food selling space and rolled out its unsold foood redistribution shceme with social network Neighbourly.com across the nation.

M&S places the customer at the heart of Plan A

Marks & Spencer has also made its supply chain transparent by launching the M&S supply chain interactive map, which lists its 690 clothing and home ware suppliers as well its 540 food suppliers. The group also removed all plastic microbeads from its wash-off personal care products in April 2015, a full year ahead of its 2016 Plan A target.

In recognition of the growing, global focus on human rights and the role businesses and industries need to play in protecting them, M&S also joined the UN Global Compact and published its debut Human Rights Report. This report outlines M&S' approach to respecting and upholding human rights within its own business operations and throughout its entire supply chain.

M&S places the customer at the heart of Plan A

"2015 was an important year for sustainable business and Plan A," commented Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business at Marks & Spencer. "Yet again we’ve achieved tough and stretching targets. The successful Paris Climate negotiations and the launch of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals have created a long-term direction of travel for the global economy and companies need a bold vision and comprehensive plan to make sure they are aligned with these important agreements."

"Under Steve’s leadership we’ll continue to play our part and crucially put the customer at the heart of everything we do, nurturing the strong trust they have in us and inspiring them with new and innovative solutions to more sustainable living that feels personal and local to them."

Photos: Marks & Spencer AW 16