Can a retailer transform our communities?

On 1 June 2017, Marks and Spencer plc announced a major community transformation programme as part of Plan A 2025 – its new plan to support 1,000 communities; help 10 million people live happier, healthier lives; and convert M&S into a zero-waste business.


This pioneering programme will see M&S work with local councils and charity partners to support communities to deliver positive, measurable change. The company launched its new programme on ‘Make it Matter Day’. The programme will be piloted in 10 communities over the next two years when M&S will trial a range of actions designed to tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, poverty, and mental health and wellbeing. Successful initiatives will be rolled out to a further 100 locations by 2023, and learnings will be shared with 1,000 locations by 2025.

Locally tailored

The ten communities M&S is currently in discussions with are Birmingham (focusing on Handsworth and Handsworth Wood), Bradford, Glasgow (focusing on Easterhouse), Liverpool (focusing on Toxteth and Dingle), Derry~Londonderry, Merthyr Tydfil, Middlesbrough, London Borough of Newham, Norwich, and Rochdale. In these communities, M&S will trial a series of locally tailored initiatives that will aim to improve the social wellbeing and happiness of residents by working with The Social Innovation Partnership to track how residents feel about their community – how positive they are, if they are connected to others, and whether they feel part of the community.

To deliver the initiatives M&S will work with local councils and partners including Business In The Community, Royal Voluntary Service, The Silver Line, Power to Change, Frazzled Cafe, and Neighbourly.

Big impact

As well as supporting 1,000 communities, Plan A 2025 also aims to make M&S a zero-waste business, and to help 10 million people live happier, healthier lives. New commitments include:

  • supporting M&S colleagues worldwide to provide one million hours of work-time community volunteering between 2017 and 2025
  • all M&S packaging to be ‘widely recyclable’ by 2022
  • halving food waste by 2025
  • at least half of global food sales to come from healthier products by 2022
  • helping raise £25 million for charities tackling cancer, heart disease, mental health problems, loneliness, and dementia by 2025
  • all key raw materials M&S uses to come from sustainable sources by 2025

M&S will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in its own operations by 2030 (compared to 2007 levels) and, during the same period, cut emissions in its supply chain by 13.3m tonnes (approved Science Based Target). M&S will report on the progress of its Plan A 2025 every year in June, and the commitments will be assured by independent auditors and M&S’ own audit team.

This story shows how Marks & Spencer supports Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals, specifically Target 17.17: “Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.”

About Marks & Spencer

Marks and Spencer plc (also known as M&S) is a major, British, multinational retailer headquartered in the City of Westminster, London, UK. Founded in 1884, by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer, it specialises in the sale of clothing, homewares, and luxury food items. The company has 979 stores throughout the UK, as well 454 international outlets.

Learn more about Marks & Spencer.

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