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Marks & Spencer Steps Up Supply Chain Mapping

Marks & Spencer’s new ethical program is placing customers first.

The U.K.-based multi-channel retailer on Thursday published its 2016 Plan A report, a new company-wide initiative that addresses environmental and ethical issues. M&S is placing customers at the heart of the plan, in order to improve customer engagement and raise awareness about supply chain issues.

“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,” said Marks & Spencer chief executive officer, Steve Rowe.

Nearly 700 clothing suppliers are now mapped under the report. Customers and stakeholders will be able to see where Marks & Spencer’s clothing products are made without problems with transparency.

Roughly 75 percent of the retailer’s products, including clothing, have an eco-friendly quality (73 percent) compared to 2014-15 (64 percent). M&S Limited London clothing collection, for example, is made from sustainable fabrics.

Other highlights include reducing food waste, removing plastic microbeads from products, improved supply chain tracking methods, using only certified palm oil in products, increased use of environmentally-friendly materials, reduced store and warehouse energy, a customer charity sponsorship program and a partnership with the UN Global Compact.

The company also reduced store and warehouse energy by 39 percent and water use was down 31 percent this year.

Marks & Spencer enabled a customer charity sponsorship program, where 90 percent of Sparks membership card customers selected one of the nine charities to contribute to, including Macmillan Cancer Support.

The retailer teamed up with the UN Global Compact and established its first Human Rights Report, which will outline the company’s commitment to ethical initiatives throughout its business operations and supply chain.

Marks & Spencer’s director of sustainable business, Mike Barry, said, “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.”