We were rated as one of the most attractive brands to work for in the UK. Professionals surveyed were asked to base their opinion on a number of factors including word of mouth, reviews and their experience of service the last time they were in our store.
NEIL HARRISON: FROM GRADUATE TO DIRECTOR OF HOME AT M&S
From graduate to Director of Home. Neil has had a varied and interesting career path at M&S. He knows how important graduates are to our business – he started his M&S journey as one himself.Inside M&S
A JOB IS NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS
Like many students, Peter needed a part-time job to have a bit of a life. He’d heard great things about M&S and joined us for the busy Christmas season. Now he’s a full-time member of the team, Christmas is still his favourite time in the M&S year.
“The atmosphere in the office is brilliant. We all dress down and have lots of Christmas jumper days.” Peter tells us that you can’t walk through the office at this time of year without hearing someone humming a festive tune – and when our Christmas advert comes out, the excitement reaches fever pitch. “My fondest memory of working at M&S over the seasonal period is Mrs Claus. I was helping out with the social media team and so we got to see the ad early. I just knew the lady in red was going to be such a big hit!”
Christmas was also the time of year when Peter made every moment special for one of our youngest customers. “A mum had bought her son a paw patrol advent calendar but the chocolates had melted. He was absolutely devastated and his mum asked for my help. I went out of my way to track down a new calendar and I also bought him a paw patrol puzzle book. I put in some of my favourite Percy Pigs, too. I wrote a letter and signed it off from Santa’s helpers. He was so happy and his mum sent me a picture of him holding all his things! It’s what Christmas is all about.”
Peter loved spending Christmas at M&S so much, he made getting a permanent job with us his number one goal. Since then, he’s been amazed at the range of opportunities and what people can achieve here. “I’ve been here, there and everywhere at M&S and loved it. From working on social media to being part of the Webchat team, it’s all been a great experience,” he says.
Peter now works in Retail Customer Services, talking to people on webchat to get their feedback and it’s always his aim to leave the chat happy. He acknowledges that there are some complaints but stresses that he also hears some heart-warming stories.
So if Peter looks after our customers, how have we looked after him? “I’ve learned so much at M&S. My creativity has improved and I feel I’ve become an all-round better person. You’re challenged to constantly improve yourself – not just to do your job but your attitude and actions outside the workplace too,” he says. “The culture of M&S is all about being positive and living the values. The company really cares about individuals; for example they are very open about mental health and wellbeing.”
Peter believes that fun, creative and positive people who can empathise and see things from the perspective of others thrive at M&S – and he works with people who fit the bill. “Customers don’t get to see how close we all work together. We’re not just colleagues, we’re friends too who spend time together outside work. My sister now works for M&S too, and she loves it!”
And he’s equally a fan of our products. “You can’t help falling in love with the amazing food M&S offers. And not just food either: just wait until you taste some of the wonderful gins we sell!”
Seems his 20% staff discount comes in handy.
Find out more about opportunities available here.Inside M&S
A HEART-WARMING CHRISTMAS TALE FOR ALL THE FAMILY
Jingle bells start jingling when M&S launches its Christmas ad. And this year’s festive campaign brings Paddington to the screen, our stores and online. But not only does the campaign help to create a magical and memorable Christmas experience for those who shop and work in our stores, it also helps some of the UK’s most vulnerable children.
Why the Paddington theme? Christmas is for all the family, so is M&S, and the bear is a treasured family favourite. There’s Paddington 2 hitting our cinemas (we’re showing a 90-second version of the ad before every screening of the film). And of course our Head Office is based in Paddington, west London.
It made perfect sense to Rob, our Director of Brand & Marketing. “We’d been talking about using our family credentials to leverage growth,” he says. “We loved the notion of two major British icons coming together and Paddington was the ultimate family character. We researched the idea of using Paddington very early this year and people said it was their second all-time favourite film. It set us off on a great track.”
Patrick, our Executive Director of Customer, Marketing & M&S.com, shares Rob’s enthusiasm: “At M&S our customers are at the heart of everything we do and we know they love spending Christmas with family and friends. We couldn’t turn down the chance to bring Paddington into the heart of our Christmas campaign this year.”
The ad is called ‘Paddington and the Christmas Visitor’. Without wishing to spoil it for you (if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a charming story of heart-felt redemption), here’s a summary: Paddington wakes on Christmas Eve and stumbles across a burglar. Despite the burglar’s protest that he is ‘not Santa’, the innocent and good-natured bear helps him take the presents to where they belong. The burglar sees the error of his ways and a crisis is avoided for Paddington’s neighbours.
Rob describes our 2017 festive offering as “our most joined-up campaign ever”, and it’s easy to see why. There is a dedicated Paddington Shop in 78 M&S stores. These include selfie stations and house over 90 themed products, the majority in Kidswear – and naturally, Paddington’s favourite marmalade will be available in our foodhalls.
But the products also include the story of the advert priced at £3 and all profits from in-store and online sales will go to the NSPCC (there are also book-readings at selected stores). Dame Esther Rantzen, founder of the NSPCC’s Childline said: “For some vulnerable children and young people Christmas can be very difficult. We’re delighted to be partnering with M&S and Paddington to support Childline and raise awareness of the work we do. At only £3, the book is excellent value for money and the perfect Christmas gift.”
We’re also bringing Paddington to life in a fully integrated cross-channel campaign. The ad is being played on TV, social, in cinemas and on our own channels, and there is extra content on YouTube. And underpinning it all is social support encouraging customers to #LoveTheBear.
It’s going to be a Christmas to remember. So resist our mince pies for a minute – marmalade sandwich, anyone?Inside M&S
YOU CAN GO FROM SCHOOL LEAVER TO INSPIRING LEADER
Henry believes that his biggest achievement so far is getting on to our school leaver scheme. “It’s competitive and has had some very inspiring leaders who have successfully progressed through the programme. To go through the same training as them and with M&S is a real privilege.”
He also says that it surpassed his expectations. While he was looking forward to a good foundation level of training, he had no idea how much coaching he would get, especially in how to drive, motivate and lead a team.
That’s turned out to be a motivator in itself. “Retailing appealed to me because every day is so different and you get to work with amazing people,” Henry tells us. “Learning how to coach, engage and support your own team’s development and success is a real motivator for me. With some of my family working in retail I had found out that M&S is one of the best to work for, with an excellent benefits package and great values.”
With three different commercial roles after the school leaver programme, Henry still hasn’t become accustomed to the variety. “Retail management at M&S is so much more than you may think. “There’s a lot of detail from analysing sales reports and patterns, to planning for future commercial events and opportunities, to managing and developing people.”
Luckily, Henry has a great role model in Steve Rowe, our CEO. “Steve stands out for me. He’s worked tirelessly all the way through the business from the bottom to the top, learning his trade and developing himself as a business leader.”
Hopefully Henry will follow in Steve’s footsteps – he tells us that he’d like to be a store manager in five years’ time. Just has he was inspired by one of our senior leaders figures and his own line managers, he wants to inspire and lead a large team himself. We’re sure he’ll get there.
Henry is one of our former school leavers who’s proving what you can learn and achieve at M&S. Find out more about the scheme here.Inside M&S
MARKS & SPENCER IS THE UK’S MOST AUTHENTIC BRAND
The findings come as the result of a study of 15,000 people worldwide carried out by Cohn & Wolfe. Customers were asked to arrange a list of seven attributes in order of importance, with data protection and privacy ranking as their main concern.
We nabbed the top spot ahead of competition from some leading retailers at a time when the handling of personal data is becoming ever more significant for brands. With stringent new rules under the General Data Protection Regulation coming in to force next May, companies and organisations risk significant fines for the mishandling of people’s personal data.
Other attributes by which customers judged the authenticity of a brand included treating customers well, delivering on promises and communicating honestly. Scores were collected out of 100 based on people’s perception of them.
Scott Wilson, Chief Executive of Cohn & Wolfe UK, said: "If people are convinced that you are authentic, our research shows they are more likely to listen, or purchase. Beyond that, they are more likely to recommend your brand to others – and to stick with you during times of crisis."
He added: "This shows that authenticity is a key driver of reputation. And to be authentic, a brand must be reliable, respectful and real. Brands should consider how authentic they are and what they can do to be more authentic – the business benefits will be very real."
Guy Johnson, Head of Data Governance at M&S said of the win: “Being transparent and trustworthy is part of our commitment to putting customers at the heart of everything we do. We’re delighted to receive recognition for something that we really value as a business.”Inside M&S
Thinking customer, first second and third…
I joined M&S just over 4 and a half years ago, as a bit of a change of scenery. When the agency I was with gave me a call about M&S, I was excited to have the chance to work for such a prestigious company, and it’s always been a shop my family have shopped in.
I started as an adviser talking to our customers on the phone, in emails and in letters. I then moved onto some of our more complex cases, before becoming a senior adviser, helping colleagues to resolve issues.
This career path made me ideally suited to joining the Customer Experience Improvement team, where I’ve been for almost three years now. As my job title suggests, we work very closely with all the other departments to provide insight and feedback directly from our customers.
These customers get in touch with every possible question, query and piece of feedback you can imagine. M&S customers are GREAT at telling us what they want. My team’s role is to make sure the customer’s voice is heard, and ensure we act on it where possible.
I think my biggest achievement has to be the development of our Conversations M&S Style initiative. It really helped us to remove the robotic contact centre speak, enabling our advisers to have human, natural conversations. Having this experience has changed the way we speak to our customers across all of our contacts, and it’s given us a great basis for the Virtual Assistant on our website.
I’m also proud to have helped make a change to our product line. When I was a senior adviser, we had a customer get in touch to ask about our sleep-vests with poppers. The customer found them great, but we only went up to a certain age with them – but this customer’s grandson was older and needed them for a feeding tube he had.
My colleague ended up getting in touch with our buying team to let them know that customers had been struggling to get hold of these sleepsuits for older children (and how much other companies charge for them). With everyone’s help and effort, we now sell sleepsuits for older children. This really stands out as an example of the changes we can make if we listen to what our customers want.
I’d say the opportunities I’ve had in the Contact Centre have been great, especially the last few years with the Customer Experience Improvement team. It’s surprising just how many areas of our business are looking for customer insight. My knowledge of the business and where we’re taking it has come on no end.
To search and apply for opportunities in our Chester Contact Centre click here.Inside M&S
Level 7 Solicitor Apprenticeship
Over the six year period, our solicitor apprentice will gain training and experience across all areas of the in-house Legal Department at M&S, covering both contentions and non-contentious work.
Six Year Programme
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VANDWICH 2017 IS COMING TO A CAMPUS NEAR YOU!
Back by popular demand! For the past year, our Vandwich competition has helped cure the stomach-rumblings of students at campuses across the UK – and we’re running the comp again this year.
It’s very simple how it works. Students from the chosen universities go to vandwich.co.uk and vote to win a van-load of delicious M&S sandwiches and crisps for their campus. Universities that are in close proximity will be pitched together head to head; for example, York will take on Leeds and Bath will be up against Bristol. Well, we thought there’s nothing like a bit of local rivalry to get students to hit the voting buttons! The paired uni with the most votes when the competition closes wins.
An M&S-branded chiller van will then turn up at the winning campuses over a two-week period to hand out 300 free sandwiches and crisps in branded goody bags, sparing students yet another beans-on-toast meal.
And that’s not all. Once again, Percy Pig will be making a guest appearance on the winning campuses. Students will be encouraged to socialise with Percy and take part in some fun mini-challenges – and those who enter into the spirit of the event will be treated to a bag of Percy Pigs to enjoy after their sandwich and crisps.
Last year, the Percy Pig-based challenges included Great Piggish Break Off, a dance off between Percy and students; and Pig Out, which involves eating as many Percy Pigs as possible in 20 seconds. Pig Out will certainly be featuring again this year and we’re also looking at a challenge in which Percy has to High Five as many students in a set time limit, or a similar challenge involving hugs.
Hardworking students will love the mouthwatering treats we bring to campus and each event will be a lot of fun. But Vandwich and Percy working in tandem also provides a great opportunity for us to get our careers message across. There will be a flyer inside the branded bags directing students to our careers website. Sending Percy on a UK road trip enables us to spread the word about our business placements and graduate careers, and we’ll also have our Brand Ambassadors on campus.
Once again, we’re capitalising on the power of social media. Last year, students posted videos or photos of themselves with Percy on Twitter; this year, we’re embracing Snapchat and there are some great prizes up for grabs. All students have to do is use their Snapchat geofilters to find Percy who’s hiding on campus and share an image on the dedicated Vandwich Snapchat page ‘findpercy’. Students submitting the most imaginative or original social content can win £250 worth of Virgin Experience Vouchers, an Amazon Echo or a £75 M&S Voucher.
Voting for the universities has now closed and the lucky winners of our sarnies will be announced in the coming weeks. Watch this space.Inside M&S
MANAGING A £9M BUSINESS WITHIN THREE YEARS
Katie didn’t know what she wanted to so after she graduated. And she says it wasn’t retail that appealed. “It was the lure of the brand. M&S has a heritage – it’s the sort of place that your granny has heard of. That’s become a rarity nowadays.”
Just three years after graduation, Katie now manages the Simply Food store in Skipton. “Although I’m personally accountable for a £9m business, my job is predominantly about people. It involves overseeing a team of 50+ and managing three section managers.”
She continues, “I knew the Graduate Scheme was a fast track into management, but I don’t think I fully understood that quite literally you’re in charge of your own segment of a multimillion-pound business.”
Katie discovered that retail management involves more than just retail management. Her regional manager has encouraged her in various other ventures. “Most recently, a colleague and I were challenged to create an 8-week internship for current university students. We did everything from pitching the scheme to a lecture theatre of students, to recruitment, devising the programme, engaging senior stakeholders and coaching the interns.”
There are more development projects on the way for Katie, so that she can understand how some of our amazing products come to fruition. “I’ve arranged to spend some time with different food departments at Head Office, and am really looking forward to meeting some of our product development teams. Who knows what that will inspire me to do next?”
Katie is impressed by our heritage, because she believes it shows how we’ve managed to remain relevant for over 100 years. “Lots of retailers talk about customer service, but I think M&S have gone a long way to redefine what this actually means for our business,” she begins. “Steve Rowe, our CEO, has said that in everything we do, we must put the customer at the heart of it. I believe we don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Even our recruitment process is heavily weighted towards the customer.”
Could you manage a £9m business within three years? On our graduate scheme and beyond, anything’s possible. Find out more here.Inside M&S