M&S Newcastle Eco-Friendly Store

We talk a lot about ‘the magic’ of M&S. It’s what makes us special: our exceptional service and value, and of course, as an own-label retailer, our obsession with quality and innovation.

Our vision is to be the most trusted retailer, which means delivering this magic day-in day-out, to every single customer. Frankly, it’s what our customers expect of us.

None of this is new. We’ve been innovating for customers for the past 140 years, and we’re incredibly proud of that. Decades ago, we were the first large retailer to bring fresh chicken to UK shelves. In the 80s, we were the first to introduce machine-washable wool to our clothing and, more recently, we became the first and only retailer to sell only RSPCA-assured milk and higher-welfare fresh chicken.

And let’s not forget our M&S Food x Zoe gut shot, which has quickly become one of our top-selling healthy eating products and one of my personal favourites.

Innovating sustainably

Innovation and sustainability already go hand in hand at M&S. It’s why in 2007 we launched our industry-leading sustainability programme, Plan A, well before most mainstream businesses were thinking about sustainability. Today, our singular focus is on becoming a net zero business by 2040. Plan A remains absolutely core to that, in fact to everything we do – and it always will.

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As I think about the climate challenges ahead, I see an opportunity to combine the good work we already do on sustainability with our unique supplier relationships and our obsession with quality and innovation, to innovate our way to net zero.

This is a huge feat and we can’t do it on our own. Thankfully, we have a family of long-standing suppliers and partners we can call on, who are just as determined to achieve this ambitious target as we are.

Investing £1m into our Plan A Accelerator Fund

We also can’t achieve it by standing still – which is why we’ve launched a £1m investment in a Plan A Accelerator Fund, focused on identifying innovative opportunities that can help us on the road to net zero. The good news is we’ve already identified several initiatives across some of the most challenging emissions areas, including agriculture, livestock and textiles.

On top of the fund, we’ve also invested further in ground-breaking projects where we see opportunities to drive change.

One of the most exciting is a first-to-market new feed supplement for the cows in our milk pool, which will cut the carbon footprint of our fresh milk by 8.4%. This means customers will now be able to pick up M&S milk in our stores, and from Ocado, in the knowledge that not only has it been produced to the highest possible animal welfare standards, but is also a more positive choice for the environment.

So, while we’ve achieved a lot already, when we think about the planet and the risks presented by climate change, there is clearly much more for us all to do. That’s why our 2040 net zero goal is so important – and we won’t stop innovating until we get there.