Nine of Marks & Spencer's biggest clothing suppliers in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are to integrate social and environmental sustainability into their business strategies to help the retailer meet its Plan A goals.

The move is part of the Sustainability Management Framework (SMF) Project launched by M&S last November, and will be based on the ISO 26000 social responsibility standard.

The project, which is due to be completed by June 2015, will include gap analysis, action plans and verification for the participating companies.

The aim is for M&S and its suppliers to align sustainability into their operations by understanding, tracking and managing environmental and social impacts across their businesses.

Consultancy CSR Company International, which is supporting the implementation, describes the SMF Project as a "milestone" in supply chain management.

The initiative was launched in New Delhi, India, where discussions ranged from the implementation of ISO 26000 to establishing a framework to monitor sustainability performance.