Shine with M&S at Christmas: making memories that last a lifetime
Sarah joined M&S at our busiest time of year – Christmas – so her first impression was that it’s really hard work. “I remember my first day being really busy in store as it was Christmas,” she says. “I was really nervous, but excited to start my first day and it was over quickly.”
But even on that first day, her colleagues made her feel welcome. “I felt as though I’d been there for at least a couple of days – everyone was really nice.”
After that, Sarah soon got into the Christmas mood. “In fact, the funniest moment I’ve had so far was when I was working on the Christmas gift shop,” she says. “We had to create theatre in the store, so we dressed up in onesies – I was a panda, with an elf hair band and a Santa beard. The customers loved it and found it quite funny – they kept asking where to get them!”
The department she really wanted to join was Beauty, so she took her Beauty assessment and passed. It turned out to be incredibly rewarding.
“Not long after I passed my beauty assessment, a lady came in and asked me if she could have some help with some makeup,” Sarah recalls. “She’d just finished her cancer treatment and didn’t know what products would be right for her. So I took her through everything step by step. When I’d finished, she said she felt so special and hadn’t felt like that since she started her treatment.”
The story didn’t end there. Three days later, the customer came back into the store with her daughter. “The daughter said that after her mum had been into M&S, she was so happy and felt amazing. They gave me some flowers and chocolates to say thank you. I felt really proud that spending that one hour with her mum had made her feel so much better.”
As well as making her customers feel good, Sarah enjoys working in the Beauty department for another reason: “My favourite M&S products are our branded beauty gifts from Leighton Denny & Stila. They’re great at Christmas.”
Shine with M&S at Christmas: A cut about the rest
Rosemary had 20 years’ experience of working with other retailers, but when she was looking for a Christmas job, M&S stood out. “I’ve always loved M&S,” she says. “And when I Googled other retailers, the M&S salary with extras was better, too.”
She admits to certainly enjoying taking advantage of those extras: “Using my discount card was a bonus. I took total advantage of it, putting bargains and treats away for Christmas. There were some really good savings.”
Starting out, she was amazed at the size of our Newcastle store. “But I soon settled in and got up to speed. My manager helped with that, as well as friendly colleagues throughout the store. And we were busy with lots of Christmas activity – I loved seeing all the new stock come in.”
The work was hard, she says, but the atmosphere was great. “It was a nice atmosphere and very upbeat. The demands of the business are paramount, but I work with a good team and we always shine through. It’s important to be happy – it helps with the stress levels!”
It helped that she enjoys being part of a team. “It’s the involvement and working together to achieve something that I like,” she says.
But when it comes to her proudest moment working here, there’s no contest. “That was when the Manager told me I was to be made permanent. I wanted to stay at M&S as I felt happy and settled here,” she admits. “In fact, I turned down three job offers from other companies who offered more money. So I felt extremely happy and lucky when I was told. I was ecstatic!”Inside M&S
Shine with M&S at Christmas: Judy gets Customer Assistant of the year.
“It was the M&S brand that first attracted me,” says Judy. “And their reputation on the high street. Mind you, on my first day the shop floor did seem quite frightening!”
That’s not surprising, as Judy didn’t have any customer service experience before joining us. But she soon settled in: “I really enjoyed bringing the M&S Christmas into the home of our customers – from fantastic presents to quality food.”
And the atmosphere in the store helped as well. “Even though it was hard work, it was vibrant and a lot of fun. I had some great managers, who taught me that if you have fun, the customers have fun too. I learned how you can make customers’ shopping experiences a real pleasure.”
Despite having no previous experience, she’s obviously a natural when it comes to customer service. And that led to an award.
“My proudest moment was when I was named best M&S customer assistant in the whole country in 2014,” she says. “I was invited to head office and met some amazing staff from different M&S stores, all with fantastic stories.”
The money she made at Christmas and the 20% staff discount has really been a bonus for Judy. “The first year, it helped me to pay off some bills and move back to the North East,” she remembers. “Since then, I’ve done all my Christmas shopping at M&S using my discount. Last year I bought a child’s shopping trolley for my friend’s little girl and she learnt to walk with it. I’ve even introduced new trends to some of my friends. But my favourite thing to get from M&S each Christmas is the turkey. You can’t go wrong!”Inside M&S
Shine with M&S at Christmas: a future in retail
With an overdraft to pay off after leaving university, James wanted a Christmas job where he could earn some much-needed cash.
“I’d worked in bars and clubs throughout my time at university,” he says. “But I thought M&S would be a great company to work for and there’d be a fantastic atmosphere in the store going into the festive period.”
He admits that he was quite nervous on his first day. “But everyone was so helpful and friendly that it soon passed. Now, even though I haven’t been here that long, I’ve learned a lot about the stock and how everything works.”
In fact, one of the things he appreciates is learning on the job. “Everyone was very happy to help me, but they also let me learn how to do things for myself.”
He feels he must be getting something right – he’s already been nominated for an award. “I was nominated for a spotlight award for helping a customer choose an outfit for a wedding. It made my day that she went to a manager and mentioned my service.”
What he really enjoys is making a positive impact on a customer’s day, such as when a customer asked him what colour shoes would go with a dress she was buying.
“I showed her the shoes we had in store and picked out a pair that I thought would complement the dress – and she bought them!”
The extra money and the 20% discount have come in useful in the run up to Christmas. “I’ve taken advantage of the discount for food and gifts for Christmas, and with my overdraft to pay off, it’s been very handy.”
He’s enjoyed his experience at M&S so much, it’s got him considering his future career. “I’d love to become a permanent employee at M&S and I’ve been thinking about whether the graduate scheme would be something that I’d be interested in.”
In the meantime, he’s just enjoying his Christmas job – and his favourite M&S product: “I’ve always loved Percy Pigs and I think the Christmas ones are great!”Inside M&S
Shine with M&S at Christmas: an unbeatable festive spirit
When Gaynor started working at the biggest M&S store in the West Midlands at Longbridge it was just for Christmas 2015.
“I joined because I felt M&S had good quality products in a great location. On my first day I felt really proud to work here and it was lovely dealing with the customers and sharing their Christmas spirit.”
She particularly enjoyed the atmosphere in the store. “It was very festive and happy, so it was very easy to have fun, working with wonderful people. One day I even dressed in a teddy bear outfit to raise money for the air ambulance! But my proudest moment was when I helped a blind lady to buy some trousers.”
She says the extra money came in handy, too: “I used the 20% discount to help treat my family to better products and gifts for Christmas.”
So after Christmas, she wanted to stay at M&S and become a permanent member of staff.
“I’ve always loved nature – its beauty, colour and texture,” she says. “So when I was asked if I’d like to be a specialist adviser for flowers, with 30 years of floristry experience behind me, I thought I’d give it a go.”
For Gaynor now, it’s all about caring for and displaying the flowers, advising customers and offering a more personal service.
“If I went into a shop to buy flowers or plants, I’d expect them to be of good quality and healthy,” she says. “And I’d expect the person in the store to know and understand the plants – how to care for them and get the best from them. I’d also expect the employees to be happy and helpful and make me feel like my sale mattered to them. Most of all I’d like to be on the receiving end of a big smile. So, if that’s the service I would expect, then that’s the service that I’ll give!”
She says what surprised her since joining M&S has been the kindness and support she’s received. “I feel appreciated – M&S takes the time to thank me for working hard. So, now I feel very settled and happy.”Inside M&S
Shine with M&S at Christmas: A Christmas job 2016 and beyond.
With a 10-month old baby, Gareth was looking for some much-needed cash to help look after his family over Christmas.
“I used to work at BHS,” he explains. “So I’d heard that M&S was a great company to work for and they actively encourage great customer service, which is what I love doing. I just like helping people, both personally and professionally. It’s one of those things that I feel is missing from the world in general. If people just did one kind or helpful thing for someone, then the world would be a much better place.”
He’s already been putting his love of customer service to good use. “I spent two and a half hours helping one customer choose a suit for his brother’s wedding. He kept on thanking me and then told management how surprised he was that someone would take that amount of time to help a customer out. But that’s what I’m here for – to make customers happy.”
In his eyes, that means being honest with customers. “If a particular item of clothing doesn’t really suit a person, I’ll say so,” he says. “If I were the customer I wouldn’t want the assistant to just try to sell stock to me for the sake of it. I’d want someone who understands what I want and how to go about it.”
Gareth hasn’t just been making his mark in our Central Milton Keynes store. “As part of the event team, I recently worked on a fashion show, which was a great experience.”
It’s an experience that he’d like to continue. “My contract runs until March 2017, so I’m hoping that the event team’s kept on, as I really enjoy what I do.”
“I’m really having fun and looking forward to getting more festive as we move closer to Christmas. Even when it gets hectic, I try to make work fun, because if you enjoy your job you do it well.”
The extra money’s already coming in handy and he’s also been able to use his 20% staff discount. “I’ve bought a few bits and pieces from the food hall and my wife’s also taking advantage whilst the sale’s on.”Inside M&S
Shine with M&S at Christmas: a permanent job becomes a New Year’s resolution
“I’ve worked in everything from a sweet shop, to a household goods store and a cash and carry,” says Clair. “But I knew M&S is just a lovely environment and company. That’s why I wanted to join them for Christmas.”
One of the things that sticks out for Clair is how friendly the staff are at M&S. “They always listen to and value my opinion,” she says. “And it’s an amazingly happy atmosphere – all the staff and customers really get into the festive spirit.”
Even when it at its most hectic, she was surprised at how Christmassy it was. “It’s very easy just to be jolly and it gets infectious. Anyway, I love places where there’s lots going on and you’re thrown into new things.”
Then there were the times when she went the extra mile to help a customer. “One day, I looked after an elderly lady while her daughter continued shopping. I found us a seat and just sat listening to her mum’s life story. It was amazing – I was in awe of her life and had a tear in my eye by the end. That was my best M&S moment ever.”
Of course, the extra money will come in handy. “It’ll allow me to get those little special gifts for family. And I use the 20% discount every chance I can. I’ve saved loads using it with other offers – it’s great for the food hall, too!”
That’s where she finds her favourite M&S products. “M&S shortbread – my Nan used to buy them and so did my mum. Now I buy them for my kids.”
Last New Year’s Eve, Clair says she made a resolution to go for what she wants and to be happy. Now, she says, she knows how to achieve that. “I’d be over the moon if I was made a permanent member of M&S. They’re an amazing company to work for and really look after their staff.”Inside M&S
Shine with M&S at Christmas: A Customer Assistant job with 20% extra!
“So many people know the M&S brand and the quality of their products,” says Becky Bates. “I think no matter what time of year the store had opened, I knew deep down it was where I’d love to work.”
Becky’s experience of handling money and keeping records while working for a bookmaker, and her confidence in selling and promoting products certainly helped. But she definitely enjoyed the change in atmosphere most.
“The store was brand new and opening around Christmas made it even more uplifting. As a team, we made the store very inviting and welcoming for the customers, which made the atmosphere of the whole department very festive.”
One aspect she loved was helping customers. “The festive period’s a time where we can really interact with our customers - finding out what they may need to make their home feel that extra bit Christmassy, or giving them advice on gifts for their loved ones,” she says. “And working in Homeware, we get lots of lovely quality items delivered - it literally transforms the look of the department!”
She says this made the store a fun place to work – even if it was the most hectic time of year. “It was easy to have fun because everyone was feeling happy. As long as you’re confident and giving the customers the service that you’d expect to receive, they’ll feel welcomed in the store.”
Since joining at Christmas-time, Becky’s made a lot of progress. “The achievements and recognition I’ve had have made me incredibly proud. I’ve expanded my personal skills and the training I’ve had, particularly in furniture, has given me more confidence.”
Becky admits that it’s a love of a challenge that makes her tick: “It’s the drive for success! I like to feel as though I’ve given 100%. But the extra money also comes in handy – especially with getting 20% Staff Discount on better quality gifts for my little boy. And I’m a candle addict, so M&S is the perfect place to work. My favourite M&S Christmas product is definitely a winter scented candle – I really can’t get enough of it!”
Would you like to join Becky working for M&S this Christmas? Find out more and apply, here.Inside M&S
Store Backstage Operations & Visual Merchandising
Store Backstage Operations
We’ve invested a great deal of time and effort, passion and care in selecting the perfect products for our customers. Your job will be to make sure they’re in stock, on display and our backstage operation runs as smoothly as possible.
About the role
Most of the time you’ll be working backstage, providing day-to-day administrative support for our store and its operations.You’ll be preparing staff rosters, processing stock deliveries, finance reports, tracking stock movement and handling customer phone calls.
Where you'll work
More from Toby
University didn’t appeal to Toby. He thought gaining experience and a career would be more beneficial, rather than a qualification which he may not use after university. The School Leaver Programme proved to Toby that you don’t need a degree to excel in your career.
"I was really excited when I heard I’d been accepted on the Programme. There are so many opportunities in M&S to develop, so I couldn’t wait to start.
"On my first day I was thrown in at the deep end, which was great because it gave me a real understanding of what I was going to be doing for the next 18 months. I soon learned you need to get involved in everything and soak up as much as possible, because once you finish the Programme it’s a lot harder to learn.
"I work in the Peterborough store as a Trainee Clothing and Home Commercial Manager, looking after menswear at a commercial level. I also looked after all of Clothing and Home for a few weeks, which was a great opportunity to learn new skills and I’m involved in a number of areas in the new Biggleswade store, including the Christmas shop.
"Starting my career earlier rather than going to university gave me the chance to learn more and develop my skills in a workplace. I personally prefer on the job learning to classroom learning. You can see first-hand how to deal with a situation and the best outcome available. For example, it’s only by dealing with a customer who wants to make a complaint that you’ll develop your management style and learn the best way to deal with them.
"One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the importance of planning. This was certainly true when I led my first Big Lingerie move. Hours of planning meant we completed a move that could have lasted through the night with only two hours’ extra spend. This showed I could overcome a seemingly impossible challenge and deliver a great outcome. When the commercial team walked the floor, they said how well the move had gone!
"The main qualities you need at M&S are summed up by three of their values: Inspiration, In touch and Innovation. You need to inspire others to do their best, be in touch with your team and understand their needs, and think outside of the box to make sure you always accomplish your goals.
"I get a great feeling working for a company that cares for its employees and understands the pressures we face on a daily basis. I have the chance to interact with senior leaders and show my abilities at all levels. There are loads of opportunities for me to develop and I’m 100% supported by my team and line manager to do so. I enjoy leading a motivated and hard-working team, and dealing with customers each day to make their shopping experience the best it can be.
"For the future, once I’m signed off as a Commercial Manager, I’d like to use my skill on other departments such as the food hall. Eventually I want to become a Store Manager, and I’d also like to gain some experience in head office."Inside M&S