Marks & Spencer (M&S) is advancing with its six year-old ‘Plan A’ campaign, designed to enhance supply chain efficiency and promote sustainable sourcing. According to its most recent ‘Plan A’ progress report, the department chain has educated 244,000 supply chain workers on crucial subjects including employee rights, contracts, financial literacy, nutrition and family planning.

So far, most of the training has been focused in India, China, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, but will soon expand throughout the company. In total, M&S hope to teach 500,000 employees about this broad range of topics.

M&S hopes to achieve several things through the Plan A programme. Corporate goals include engaging more employees and consumers, improving suppliers’ sustainability and product quality, in addition to meeting sourcing standards for a selection of raw materials.

The company could benefit significantly from the programme, as recent figures indicate declining profits for the chain’s clothing division.

In the years since Plan A’s launch, M&S has achieved 139 of its 180 goals outlined in the scheme. Chief executive officer of M&S, Marc Bolland, has expressed pride in the company’s accomplishments to date. He said: “It has made our business more sustainable and more engaging for our customers and employees.”

So far, half of M&S products have been improved to meet Plan A’s high standards. Throughout the past year, 45 per cent of M&S merchandise has been labelled eco or ethical, classifying as Fairtrade, sustainable or carbon neutral.

Still, the company admits much more should be done to enhance its sustainablesourcing of cotton. By 2015, the company hopes to procure a quarter of its cotton fromFairtrade suppliers. Currently, only 11 per cent of the company’s cotton stock wassourced according to stringent Better Cotton Initiative standards.

The M&S boss added: “We must continue to adapt and step up to the challenge of the world’s climatic and demographic changes. Growing global consumption will continue to put pressure on finite resources, extreme weather is becoming a reality and social pressures, such as youth unemployment, are becoming more acute.”

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