For some time, we have covered Marks & Spencer’s (M&S) restructuring and revival plan. That program—called Plan A because the company considers it the best way to do business—is saving the company money. Sustainability is putting M&S on the right path, and the payback is adding up fast.
In fiscal year 2011, Plan A contributed over £70 million ($113.2 million) to the company’s bottom line, up from £50 million the prior year. M&S is working toward its goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015.
“Plan A is now delivering more for our customers than ever before. It is creating great products with eco and ethical benefits like the world’s first fairtrade vegetable and the Indigo Green fashion range. Over 180,000 people recycled their unwanted clothes with the Oxfam Clothes Exchange,” M&S Chief Executive Marc Bolland said in the company’s press release.
Beyond what it’s doing to involve its customers in the mission, M&S it is making substantial savings through sustainable efforts. Of the £70 million gained through Plan A last year, 19 percent stemmed from energy savings, 15.7 percent came from packaging reductions, 2.9 percent through reduced fuel use, and 1.4 percent in hanger recycling. These are tangible savings, and they have been reinvested in the business.
M&S also is focused on its textile use. As part of its Plan A commitment, the company boosted its use of recycled polyester in general merchandise products to more than 1,900 tons—equivalent to 47 million two-liter plastic bottles.
What’s more, the company plans to source 25 percent of its cotton from sustainable sources by 2015, and then raise that amount to 50 percent by 2020. Sustainable sources are defined as fairtrade, organic, recycled, and “Better Cotton.” Better Cotton is an initiative designed to make cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for “the sector’s future.”
We are very happy to highlight the success of the Plan A initiative. It’s another example of how sustainability can be good for customers, the environment, and business. We continue to wish Marks & Spencer success with Plan A, as well as with the company’s goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015.