How M&S is dealing with the 90% of impacts that fall within its supply base

Marks & Spencer took 18 months to develop one clear framework for its suppliers and buying teams to get behind.

Winner in the 2degrees Champions Awards 2015

The background

Over 90% of M&S impacts fall outside of our own operation and within the supply chain so the M&S HWDB Framework was developed to ensure that we are working with our suppliers to reduce their impacts.

Prior to this the main focus had been through ‘supplier exchange’ bringing suppliers together to share best practise. A number of things became clear:

  • Often solution(s) were within the M&S supply-base;

  • Businesses wanted to work on the same issues and seek external stakeholder input so collaborating together made sense;

  • Suppliers tended to be leading on one approach (e.g. fantastic approach to HR but very little environmental management);

  • M&S Buying teams wanted to understand how their suppliers were performing in terms of sustainability and display this clearly as part of M&S balance score card;

  • M&S Foods really needed to be able to articulate the business benefits for investing in sustainability

What did we do

The HWDB Framework took 18 months to develop:

1) Framework Development

M&S Sustainability Managers pulled together over 100 different supplier sustainability case studies to make the framework.

2) Roll out M&S invested in a new data base to collect the framework and KPI data. In 2013 we created the ‘Silver and Beyond’ Campaign to ensure that buying teams and suppliers got behind the process. The campaign included:

  • leaflets and materials highlighting the business benefits of Silver and why it’s a ‘no brainer’ for suppliers;

  • using case studies from current Silver sites to demonstrate these benefits;

  • providing toolkits, top tips & help guides on all 3 frameworks;

  • running regular Supplier Exchange meetings for suppliers;

  • Creating a series of videos, including senior representatives from M&S and Supply base talking about benefits; and

  • sending monthly supplier scorecard reports & analysis to categories

The result

Key achievements:

  • one clear framework for suppliers to work through;

  • tangible business benefits of investing in sustainability;

  • increased engagement with M&S buying teams;

  • increased numbers of suppliers achieving silver status- 27% of M&S Foods Volume, doubled since 2012;

  • more than 300 M&S sites participating in the programme (91%food volume);

  • 25% of our Food supplier’s sites have improved energy efficiency by at least 20% on their baseline year;

  • 24% of sites have reduced water usage against last year;

  • 41% Send no waste to landfill;

  • 40% had positivity scores of 65% or above in feedback surveys. (high for food manufacturing);

  • substantial cost savings through improved staff stability - absence and turnover figures;

  • First Gold factory in 2014.

A 2013 survey showed that 84% of suppliers agreed that the framework was useful in helping them develop and deliver their sustainability strategy.

The personal pitch

This is a really comprehensive approach to supplier engagement that has been developed through a collaborative approach. Sites supplying more than 91% of food volume is engaged in the programme so we achieving real scale and impact. This is backed up in the independent impact assessment ““For companies who have taken a sustainability approach and attained M&S HWDB Silver, no matter what their shape or size, the business benefits are extensive and undisputed”

Suppliers, contractors and solutions providers used

M&S Suppliers – workshops with the supplier exchange groups, between 50 and 70 suppliers contributed feedback to each chapter. Key suppliers who contributed included Bakkavor, Greencore, Fresca, Samworth Brothers and 2 Sisters.

Leading experts, NGOS and other stakeholders contributed feedback including the ALP, Unite the Union, Oxfam, Carbon Trust, SA Partners, EHRC , WRAP, ETI.

Consultancies with expertise in the legal requirements for each of the chapters then helped ensure that these were up to date

The feedback from all of these different groups enabled us to pull the document together to show clearly where a supplier can attain provisional, bronze, silver or gold status. This initial phase took 18 months, with supplier’s feedback and also trialling areas of the framework. This was extremely thorough and has meant that the programme is more embedded.

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