In spring/summer 2019, M&S sustainably sourced 100% of the cotton used in its clothing

In spring/summer 2019, M&S sustainably sourced 100% of the cotton used in its clothing

Retailer Marks & Spencer is relaunching its Plan A eco and ethical programme, saying the time has come to reinvigorate the initiative and return it to the "centre of the customer story."

Plan A launched in 2007, and since then has delivered 296 eco and ethical commitments, won 240 awards, and saved more than GBP750m in costs through efficiencies such as using less energy, fewer transport miles and reducing packaging.

As part of its initial Plan A, M&S also pledged to source 25% of its cotton more sustainably by 2015 and 50% more sustainably by 2020. Initially it started sourcing fair trade, organic and recycled, but it was able to scale and accelerate its sustainable cotton uptake thanks to the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). In spring/summer 2019, in clothing, it sourced 100% of cotton sustainably.

In a stock exchange announcement today (14 December), the retailer said the time has come to review its plans and "challenge its thinking."

Alongside the relaunch of the Plan A sustainability programme, it is creating an Environmental Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) board sub-committee, effective from 16 December, which will be chaired by Tamara Ingram, who will be joined by Sapna Sood as a member.

"M&S was a pioneer in creating an industry-leading, fully integrated sustainability plan under the 'Plan A' banner, reflecting values that have been core to M&S's culture since its inception," says chairman Archie Norman. "The organisation's inherent and enduring community spirit has been borne out in its response to the pandemic, and in many areas – particularly on sourcing and supply chain standards – we continue to lead the market.

"However, Plan A was launched in 2007 and the time has come to look again at our plans and challenge our thinking. Helping our colleagues, customers and communities lead happier, healthier and fulfilling lives is core to the M&S brand and great work continues to be delivered, but we need to continue to reinvigorate Plan A and put it back at the centre of our customer story.

"Tamara's deep understanding of the customer and Sapna's experience of leading global supply chains and previous board experience in sustainability will ensure the committee provides robust oversight and challenge. The committee's first task will be to agree a timetable for the Plan A relaunch next year."