20 September, 2017

Meet our Moment Makers: Kate

It’s not just sleigh bells that are ringing in December. Our tills are too – well, metaphorically speaking of course in this digital age. You don’t have to be Sherlock to work out that Christmas is the busiest time of year in M&S stores. And planning for the festive period starts months in advance.

That means deciding on our Christmas themes, which products are going to be a hit, how we’re going to decorate our stores. And then there’s the little matter of making sure we have enough people on our sales floor, in our Food Halls, in our Cafés to ensure that every Christmas shopping experience is the best it can possibly be.

So meet Kate – she’s responsible for our peak seasonal recruitment. Kate’s worked in HR since graduating and has spent the past 12 years loving life in M&S HR Shared Services. Now, as part of the Central Recruitment team, Kate works with some 140 Regional Recruitment Customer Assistants to make sure we have the numbers in place.

Her mission starts early. “Planning for the Christmas season starts before the sun tan lotion is put away,” she says. “I’ve long been touring the UK, meeting our Regional Recruitment Customer Assistants to make sure they’re fully geared up. Our aim is to have all our peak recruitment done and dusted before the end of November so stores can focus wholly on Christmas trading – and I can look forward to a mini Beef Wellington from our Christmas Party range!”

We don’t cut corners at Christmas just because we’re ‘busy’. In one respect, it’s even more important to make every moment special for customers during this period. Christmas shopping can be stressful, so we need to go the extra mile to make sure customers can find and then leave the store with exactly what they want. “It’s not good enough simply telling customers where the tins of shortbread are, we need to take them to the right aisle so they don’t waste time aimlessly wandering around,” Kate agrees.

When you think about how many customers come to M&S to buy their Christmas turkey, not to mention all the other trimmings from food and drink to a jumper for Dad, you’ll realise how busy we’ll be. Any ‘quiet’ periods will usually be spent filling the shelves for the next rush.

Our Christmas colleagues need to cope with that pace without compromising standards. “We look for people who are committed and flexible and can offer the kind of service they like to receive themselves,” Kate says. “Opportunities are spread across the floor so there’s something for so many people, from serving in our Food Halls, Bakeries or Beauty Department to making Cappuccinos in our Cafés. The best advice I can give is to set up a job alert today so you don’t miss out.”

And you would be missing out on quite a lot. “We look to reward our Christmas colleagues straight away. You’ll get a 20% employee discount from day one and our hourly rate is more than competitive,” Kate says.

Not a bad Christmas present.

Find out more about current opportunities here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

We are supporting Stonewall’s new campaign to ‘Come Out For LGBT’

We have come a long way in the fight for LGBT rights in the last 25 years. But new research from LGBT charity Stonewall shows just how far we have to go. The number of lesbian, gay or bi people who have experienced a hate crime has gone up by nearly 80% over the last five years. And two in five trans people have experienced hate crime in the last 12 months. The fight for equality is far from over.
 
That’s why we are supporting Stonewall’s brilliant new campaign: Come Out For LGBT. We want everyone in Britain to join us and show visible support for LGBT equality in lots of different ways: from sharing positive messages on social media, to knowing how to intervene to stop discrimination, to making your school or workplace more inclusive. 
 
We all have a part to play in creating a world where everyone, everywhere can be themselves. Go to www.stonewall.org.uk/comeoutforLGBT now to sign the pledge and find out more.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Golden Milestone in Belfast

It’s 1967. The original Summer of Love. Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair) has just spent four weeks at number one. And on Thursday the 7th of September, our Belfast store opened its doors at Donegal Place in the city centre.

This was a milestone in Marks & Spencer history, as it was the first store to open in Northern Ireland. At the time, the Belfast store was the most publicised M&S opening ever. An estimated 120,000 people visited the store on the first day. People came from all over Northern Ireland, some even made the trip from Dublin and Galway to see the new store. Two weeks later 200 VIP guests gathered at a special reception to mark the opening, including the Governor and Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

Now another milestone has been reached, as we celebrate 50 years in Northern Ireland. As Ryan Lemon, M&S head of region Northern Ireland, explains: "For 50 years, M&S has been at the heart of local communities across Northern Ireland, growing from one Belfast store in 1967, to 20 locations across the province. This year, as we celebrate our milestone anniversary, it is important for us to give back to our community, and offer a helping hand to those in need."

To mark the 50th anniversary, we took on the ambitious task of hosting 50 ‘Making Every Moment Special in the Community’ projects across the region – with staff from all 20 stores taking part. The occasion is also being marked with a pop-up exhibition in the Donegal Place store - featuring vintage M&S fashions, fascinating facts and fabulous photos.

Joanne Jones has worked for M&S in Belfast store for 34 years, “There has always been a fantastic buzz in Belfast City Centre, even throughout the Troubles.  Belfast people are very friendly and come through many hurdles together, and it has brought the whole community and store team together like a family.”

Manager, Colin McGreevy has also been with M&S for over 30 years, “It has always been my aspiration to be the Store Manager of Belfast, as I am local to the area.  I am very proud that my customers have been shopping with us for 50 years with a really unique sense of brand loyalty.  Similarly, I am blown away by the loyalty of the staff in store, with many colleagues having over 40 years service.”

It's a proud past – and you could be part of its future. Check out vacancies in Belfast and Northern Ireland here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

My M&S Life: Josie

Meet Josie. She’s Visual Merchandising Section Manager at our Cheshire Oaks store. Turn up at the store when it opens at 9am and you’re guaranteed that everything will be looking the best it can be. That’s because Josie and her team have already been in for a couple of hours.

“I arrive at 7am and the first thing I’ll do is say ‘hello’ to the team. I believe in forging personable relationships and this sets them up for the day,” Josie says. Then it’s a walk round with her Section Coordinator. “During this time, we’ll scrutinise standards and make sure that window displays will grab the attention of the passer-by. I also check on sales figures and footfall as these enable me to identify any areas that need additional visual focus.”

When the doors open at 9am, Josie will take a tour of the store with other managers, before a full management huddle to glean the important commercial information. At 10am, Josie will hold a quick team brief and that changes day to day to keep things fresh. “On Mondays we focus on any top lines, Tuesday on management updates. Wednesday’s brief is all around the customer and team energising. Thursday is a day for sales and buzz sessions, and Friday’s is called ‘tidy Friday’.” Josie believes implicitly in engaging her team by cascading down any key business messages, providing motivation on the shop floor and setting up team competitions during peak times.

By noon, after a quick but well-deserved break, Josie will be on the shop floor with her team where she’ll remain for the next few hours. “I make sure that my whole team is focussed on the customer and driving sales. That includes me as I believe in leading from the front.” During this time, she’ll spot things where improvements can be made which can provide useful feedback for her team.

The afternoon will often continue with projects or events that Josie is heading up. “As a Visual Merchandising manager I am extremely lucky as I am able to get involved in lots of extra projects, internal and external. This is also the time that I would utilise Yammer, the M&S social media page.” At 3pm, all the Section Managers will get together for an hour to discuss store KPIs and upcoming events.

Josie loves her job and she’s been working towards it since joining as a Christmas temp at our Chester store back in 2011. When our Cheshire Oaks store opened, Josie became Section Coordinator for Peak in Lingerie & Beauty. Then she applied to join our Trainee Section Manager Scheme and took on a Late Night Section Manager role looking after Womenswear, Beauty, Lingerie and Backstage, before moving into her current job. “M&S has a great career path including the newly launched apprenticeship scheme. The benefits and pay at M&S are remarkable, including the share save scheme, staff choices and the staff discount. And there’s a real family feel to the business.”

Josie strives to make every moment special for our customers – and has a great example to prove it: “I spotted a post on social media which said a customer had lost a comforter for her baby. The comforter had sold out everywhere online and in store; I managed to track the item down via Yammer from a Store Manager and hand-deliver it to the customer’s house.”

Above and beyond the call…

Find out more about Visual Merchandising opportunities available here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Meet our Moment Makers: Rosie

Starting a new job at any time of the year can set the nerves jangling. So think of Rosie, whose M&S career as a Customer Assistant began at the height of the New Year sales.

It was deep-end stuff, so how did she feel? “I was a bit terrified at first, but my team was so nice and supportive I soon felt at ease. Then I began to enjoy the buzz of the place, dealing with customers at such a happy time of year, getting used to the products. I’ve realised that the Christmas and New Year period at M&S is really a little magical for both customers and colleagues.”

Rosie had worked in retail before serious illness put her career on hold. It was her sister – recently retired from her role at M&S – who recommended she applied to us when the time was right. Despite her baptism of fire, Rosie’s never looked back – even meeting Joanna Lumley at a Plan A event. After years in Menswear, she now works in Womenswear and is a passionate advocator for working at M&S, helping out with inductions for new starters.

So where does this passion come from? “It’s the people,” she says immediately. “My colleagues are so caring, especially when things get tough and I’ve personally gone through some really testing times. M&S is like an extended family and everyone works so hard. Customers only see the smiles on the shop floor but so much goes on behind the scenes. Everyone has a part to play – we’re like a theatre company that believes that the show must always go on!”

Rosie also enthuses about the benefits: “I particularly love the 20% staff discount. I buy most of my food at M&S and lots of clothes although it’s important not to get carried away… I sometimes have to shut my eyes when new things come in! And it’s good that everyone gets the discount, including Christmas temps from their very first day.”

Rosie has seen a lot of changes in retail over the years, but accepts that that’s the nature of the business. One thing hasn’t changed at M&S, though – the overriding focus on the customer and Rosie has her own memories of creating a special moment for one particular customer: “We had a lady from overseas who came into the store and spoke very little English. Don’t know how, but we just about managed to understand each other and we did a bit of personal shop. She was delighted with the outfits we found… and I got a cuddle for it!”

And another Christmas is just around the corner. “It’s very festive in-store, as you can imagine,” Rosie says. “It’s hard work, but fun too – you can have a good time. I think our best temps are flexible, positive, friendly and team-spirited.”

If that sounds like you, we could soon be welcoming you to our Christmas and New Year team. Find out more about available opportunities here

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Meet our Moment Makers: Matthew

Rewind 15 years and Matthew felt he wanted to do something different over the Christmas period. He’d always considered M&S to be a highly respected retailer, had long been big fans of M&S products and knew for a fact that we treat our staff well – because his late mother had worked as a Christmas temp at our Queen’s Street store in Oxford. How ironic then that he started with us in that self-same store in a similar seasonal role!

Shoppers flock to M&S at Christmas to fill their fridges and put presents under the tree, so how did Matthew take to life in one of our stores at our busiest time of year? “I literally had no idea what to expect, but everything clicked into place very quickly,” he remembers. “And every year since, the atmosphere in our stores has been totally electric; we’re so busy it all passes in a blur. We’re always amazed that the festive season comes round so quickly!”

Matthew’s first Christmas with M&S had an added bonus: he knew he was soon going to become a permanent member of the team at our new food hall in Summertown, Oxford. “It was great to join a new store full of buzz and energy,” he says with enthusiasm. Matthew is still with us in Summertown all these years later, working on the till, where he continually strives to improve the service we offer customers.

“When I think about our customers in Summertown, I’m reminded of Charles Dickens’ novel: ‘Great Expectations’! M&S has a legendary reputation for great service but if customers see that you’re doing your best to provide it, they’ll be on your side and take you to their hearts,” Matthew says.

Matthew believes that it’s a team effort that makes every moment special for customers. Being on the till, Matthew is obviously ‘front of house’, but he’s quick to acknowledge the contribution of those working behind the scenes. “Customers don’t see the highly impressive backstage crew at work. Those dealing with the admin or getting stock ready do an exceptional job and without their efforts the store would grind to a halt.”

It was in one of our busy Christmas periods that Matthew feels he has made the most difference to an individual customer. “Once, our £40 hampers were three for the price of two. I told a customer of the offer at the till and he rushed back and grabbed the last hamper we had. With a beaming smile he told me I had made his daughter’s Christmas at no extra cost!”

Our people are always there for our customers and we’re there for them in their time of need. “When my mother died, I was given two weeks’ paid compassionate leave and there was so much support and understanding when she was fighting cancer,” Matthew says. “Sadly, a few years ago we also lost a much-loved colleague to the disease at a tragically young age and we have a fine track record in raising funds for cancer charities.”

M&S is that kind of place – so if you have tact, diplomacy, respect, good manners and a willingness to put customers first, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome as a member of our Christmas team.Rewind 15 years and Matthew felt he wanted to do something different over the Christmas period. He’d always considered M&S to be a highly respected retailer, had long been big fans of M&S products and knew for a fact that we treat our staff well – because his late mother had worked as a Christmas temp at our Queen’s Street store in Oxford. How ironic then that he started with us in that self-same store in a similar seasonal role!

 

Shoppers flock to M&S at Christmas to fill their fridges and put presents under the tree, so how did Matthew take to life in one of our stores at our busiest time of year? “I literally had no idea what to expect, but everything clicked into place very quickly,” he remembers. “And every year since, the atmosphere in our stores has been totally electric; we’re so busy it all passes in a blur. We’re always amazed that the festive season comes round so quickly!”

Matthew’s first Christmas with M&S had an added bonus: he knew he was soon going to become a permanent member of the team at our new food hall in Summertown, Oxford. “It was great to join a new store full of buzz and energy,” he says with enthusiasm. Matthew is still with us in Summertown all these years later, working on the till, where he continually strives to improve the service we offer customers.

“When I think about our customers in Summertown, I’m reminded of Charles Dickens’ novel: ‘Great Expectations’! M&S has a legendary reputation for great service but if customers see that you’re doing your best to provide it, they’ll be on your side and take you to their hearts,” Matthew says.

Matthew believes that it’s a team effort that makes every moment special for customers. Being on the till, Matthew is obviously ‘front of house’, but he’s quick to acknowledge the contribution of those working behind the scenes. “Customers don’t see the highly impressive backstage crew at work. Those dealing with the admin or getting stock ready do an exceptional job and without their efforts the store would grind to a halt.”

It was in one of our busy Christmas periods that Matthew feels he has made the most difference to an individual customer. “Once, our £40 hampers were three for the price of two. I told a customer of the offer at the till and he rushed back and grabbed the last hamper we had. With a beaming smile he told me I had made his daughter’s Christmas at no extra cost!”

Our people are always there for our customers and we’re there for them in their time of need. “When my mother died, I was given two weeks’ paid compassionate leave and there was so much support and understanding when she was fighting cancer,” Matthew says. “Sadly, a few years ago we also lost a much-loved colleague to the disease at a tragically young age and we have a fine track record in raising funds for cancer charities.”

M&S is that kind of place – so if you have tact, diplomacy, respect, good manners and a willingness to put customers first, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome as a member of our Christmas team. Find out more about opportunities available here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Meet our Moment Makers: Luke

You can tell when it’s Christmas at M&S by the number of people dressing up. Luke tells us, “We had a staff engagement evening to showcase new lines for Christmas, and I and my colleagues in Kidswear decided to wear onesies and sleepwear. Mine was a gorilla one, and the picture still makes me laugh!”

Gorillas may not be the first things that spring to mind about the festive period, but Luke and the team clearly found a great way to let their other colleagues know what was available.

Surprisingly, he wasn’t always this outgoing. “When I started two years ago, I was incredibly shy and had no experience in retail. M&S has allowed me to develop myself – it’s really brought me out of my shell.”

We could vouch for that, as it’s not the only time Luke has been spotted on the floor in a onesie. “I was wearing one again when I was demonstrating a fish-shaped bubble blowing machine. By the afternoon, I’d sold out of all of them, and it created a great atmosphere on the sales floor.”

Luke describes the Christmas atmosphere as excitable – everyone’s happy and it lifts the mood across the floor. So how did he feel when he was told as a Christmas temp that we’d like him to join us permanently? “Very privileged. It shows that I’ve worked hard and I’m trusted.”

“My line manager, Sarah, has helped me develop my skills, which has made me gain a lot of confidence. She believed in me enough to work late by myself one night so that all new packs were merchandised and inspirational. She put a lot of trust in me and recognised me for the work.”

Luke’s immediate future is university. Which means his 20% staff discount has come in handy. “I’ve bought things like food and also presents for family, and I’m going to get all my essential bedding from M&S before the big move.”

People join us in a temporary job for Christmas for all sorts of reasons – the atmosphere, the extra cash and the discount. Sometimes there’s a permanent role at the end of it too. Find out more and apply here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Progression through passion

There are more routes into Marks & Spencer – and career paths – than many people realise. Kate’s story is a great illustration. After graduating, she joined us in our Human Resources Shared Services contact centre, and her career has taken off from there.

Kate first worked at HRSS on the front-line support team, answering and logging calls related to all things HRSS and logging. Within months, she was investigating and resolving complex pay queries. A year later she switched to Systems support and then earned a series of promotions to reach Team Leader in March 2017. She’s now responsible for the eight-strong team who take care of the different HR systems that are so vital to the smooth running of the whole business.

This career journey was not one Kate expected. “Being fresh out of University, I don’t think I realised the potential that I could have as a career with M&S. The passion to develop and drive our people is inspiring and the support I received in this progression far surpassed my expectations.” 

Kate puts her progression down to, “Working in such an open, honest environment and having a support network with line managers and HR Business Partners. They have enabled me to express my areas of interest, allowed me to explore different roles and encouraged me to enrol myself on workshops.”

Ultimately, Kate’s attitude to progression is all about passion. “If you have the passion and the drive to do the right thing, M&S is the place to help grow you as an individual, personal and professional.”

To check for vacancies in HR Shared Services, click here

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Meet our Moment Makers: Erlina

Erlina has known and trusted our brand since she was a teenager in Indonesia. And she doesn’t just extend her generosity to customers over the Christmas and New Year season. “As I’m a Muslim I don’t celebrate it myself, so I like to do more shifts over Christmas so that others can spend that time with their families.”

When we asked Erlina what her main responsibility is at work, we thought she’d say something about amazing products or being part of a team. Instead, she tells us, “It’s to make every moment special for our customers.”

We needed to know more, and she was happy to tell us. “I’m a Suit Advisor in Menswear, which means I get to spend time with customers to fit them with a suit and offer advice.”

“One day I saw an elderly couple who seemed to need help – the gentleman was in a wheelchair. He had just been given the all-clear from cancer and he wanted a suit so that they could go for a meal for their 50th anniversary. None of his fitted any more.”

“I fitted him in a suit, complete with shirt and shoes, and he saw himself in the mirror. He couldn’t believe how good he looked - he said his wife could see him as a man again rather than someone with cancer. They said they felt like they had fallen in love all over again. It was such a special moment.”

That was obviously a rewarding experience for Erlina. What else does she enjoy? “New products and the sale! I love having early access to new clothes and the fashion trends for that season. I also think it is a privilege to know what’s going to be in the sale and when it will start.”

We’re sure that the 20% staff discount comes in very handy. “Oh yes! I do a weekly shop in the Biggleswade retail park store and I regularly buy women’s fashion,” she says. “I took part in a fashion show that we did for customers in the Cambridge store and loved some of the products so much, I had to buy them! The 20% discount is very generous and I get 20% off the sale price as well.”

Whether you’re fashion-conscious or not, a temporary job during the Christmas season could mean you enjoy generous staff discount too, plus extra cash and maybe even a permanent role afterwards. Find out more here.

Inside M&S
20 September, 2017

Making M&S Moments: Caroline

We aim to make every moment special for our customers. And our customer assistants really take this to heart.

Caroline’s role in our Events team involves greeting customers, helping them around the store and letting them know about current offers. She tends to go the extra mile. “I have been lucky enough to be able to help customers by finding products that weren’t available on the shop floor, which made them feel valued.”

Caroline’s efforts don’t stop on the shop floor or behind the scenes. “I’ve helped customers who are frail and not able to walk to the tills - I take the product, carry out the sale and bring back the item and their change.”

“Once, I realised that a customer was weighed down with the number of shopping bags so I picked some of them up and went with her to the taxi rank.”

Caroline would be the first to admit that she’s been a loyal customer for many years. Now that her daughters have started work, she’s introduced them to M&S formal wear. She also loves Autograph and our Limited range, and considers the food amazing.

It’s great starting out with some product knowledge, but how did she pick up the rest? “It’s very important that I have a current knowledge of where all products are and that I’m always aware of new lines and new display areas. My managers and colleagues are always quick to explain it all to me.”

And what’s the biggest lesson Caroline has learned? “That the customer’s experience is the most important thing, and you should always treat people the way that you want to be treated.  A smile and a hello costs you nothing, yet it can make someone’s day.”

Caroline rates the interaction she can have with customers as a highlight of the job. If you believe in putting the customer’s experience first, perhaps you could take on a similar role. Find out more here.

Inside M&S

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