12 May, 2016

The beauty of experience

There’s not much Emma doesn’t know about cosmetics. So when it comes to making people look good and feel good, she’s the woman to turn to.

“I love interacting with customers. They come to the Beauty Counter because they take pride in their appearance – and I make sure every visit is a memorable experience by offering products and advice that are right for them. We all have our favourites – for me it’s the Rodial Hangover Mask, I adore it, and our Rosie lipsticks. It’s about listening to what customers want, being patient and learning as you go.

“But I also share my knowledge with other team members. They’re a top bunch, all very different characters from a range of backgrounds, which makes for a great working atmosphere. I’ve been both an advisor and a coach. M&S is a company that puts great importance on learning. I’ve always had support from my manager when needed and now I try to support others.”

Twenty-one years in the same company is an impressive record. So what does Emma remember about her first day and why has she stayed so long?

“I was nervous on my first day, I think that’s natural, but I was made to feel welcome and quickly felt at home. I’d always worked in retail, and one of the things that attracted me was the prestige of the M&S brand – I was keen to be part of it.

“I’ve always considered myself to be the loyal sort. But I wouldn’t have stayed so long without good reason. Helping customers to look their best is enjoyable and rewarding, but I’m not going to pretend it’s not challenging at times too. Some days are better than others but my sense of humour normally sees me through. I remember once trying to remove lip liner from a customer, which actually turned out to be a tattoo – fortunately her sense of humour was similar to mine!”

M&S has added new dimensions to Emma life. The Beauty team regularly socialises and Emma has also done some charity work.

“Helping others through the charity work was so inspiring,” she enthuses. “I’ve also worked with Gingerbread and Marks & Start. It’s good to give something to others.”

And does Emma have time for anything else?

“I absolutely love salsa dancing,” she says with a smile. “And if there’s karaoke, I’m normally first up to the mic.”

Inside M&S
6 May, 2016

Meet Rosie - Store Visual Manager

Visual Merchandising at M&S has moved on massively in the 10 years Rosie has been with us. And if you’re fashion-savvy and have a real flair for conveying the latest trends, your career could too. Watch the video to see the kind of freedom Rosie enjoys, why there’s such a close-knit team spirit and how she helps her team members to live their dreams.

If you think you have the ability to create the visual environments that stop our customers in their tracks and turn browsers into buyers, view our roles here.

Inside M&S
6 May, 2016

Beautiful Bath beckons

The beautiful city of Bath has a lot going for it; culture, architecture and stunning surroundings. But doing a weekly shop can be a frustrating experience in the city centre, given the fact that driving is discouraged through high parking charges and significant congestion. Recognising this customer need, we’re answering the call with a new store opening in the easily accessible location of the Weston Lock Retail Park.

This 8,500sq feet site, boasts a fully-decked out Food Hall, complete with a Shop Your Way order and collection services, as well as our new Coffee to Go service. In a stunning location that sees it nestled between the Isambard Kingdom Brunel built Great Western Railway line and the River Avon it’s also highly convenient for both our customers and staff alike – with great transport links from Oldfield Park station, a regular bus service and free local parking on the Lower Bristol Road.

More excited than anyone is fledgling store manager Stacey Williams: “I’m buzzing with excitement about the new Bath Food Hall. It’s my first store manager role, and a position I’ve dreamed of since starting off as a Christmas temp seven years ago.”

But it’s not just Stacey who can look forward to a great opportunity. With a new store comes a range of new exciting vacancies – from Fire, Health and Safety Officers to Store Operations and Foods’ Customer Assistants. And with operating times from 5.45am to 10pm, there’s sure to be hours to suit.

If you’re interested in joining our brilliant store team, why not apply for one of our roles here.

Inside M&S
26 April, 2016

Marking a momentous milestone

We have whisked one of our longest serving members of staff in Greenock away for a VIP luxury break. Proud employee Margaret has worked in our Hamilton Way store for the last 40 years.

In recognition of this fantastic achievement her bosses took her to London for a champagne reception, a luxury hotel stay and a west end show.

At the bash held at our headquarters, our chief executive Steve Rowe, paid tribute to Margaret’s outstanding service. And Margaret has declared that she had no plans to step away from the store just yet.

The 68-year-old, from Roxburgh Street, said: “I still thoroughly enjoy my role at the store and don’t have any immediate plans to retire soon. Even when it comes to that stage in my life, I’m sure I’ll still visit the store regularly!”

Since starting out back in 1975 when platform shoes and bell-bottom trousers were all the rage, Margaret has worked in every department. For the past 25 years she has been based in admin and she was asked to cut the ribbon following a refurbishment of the store.

She said: “Marks and Spencer are a great company to work for. They treat their staff very well. The Greenock store is very friendly and we are just like a big family. You get to know all the customers who come into the store as well.” 

For her loyal service, Margaret, who works part-time, went with husband Billy to London where they stayed in the Hilton and went to see the Lion King musical.

In the store she is known as the ‘go to’ person for any query, whether it’s for a customer or a fellow member of staff.

Margaret said: “Looking back over the last four decades, it’s amazing to think of the memories I’ve collected with M&S. My career has been hugely varied.”

“Not only have I worked across a number of different departments, but I’ve also had a fantastic time helping the store to fundraise for a number of charities and have mentored new members of the team.”

This article originated on the Greenock Telegraph website

Inside M&S
21 April, 2016

A career milestone

Sue is a Product Development Manager for M&S, focusing on ‘Food on the move’ and hospitality innovation. She has worked in the Food Division for almost 20 years – and the Patron’s Lunch celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday is one of the biggest projects she’s worked on.

I work with a fantastic team of product developers. We’ve all hugely enjoyed working on the Patron’s Lunch. Creating and delivering 10,000 hampers on The Mall, feeding the 5,000 (quite literally!) volunteers and delivering a superb in-store range has been a real career milestone. I’ll be at the event on 12 June and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the guests opening and enjoying their hampers. It will give me a real sense of achievement. 

Being chosen to help celebrate the Her Majesty’s 90th birthday has been a real accolade. I think this was very much down to our reputation for providing the very best quality. We have really strong relationships with some amazing suppliers too – and this, together with our passion for innovation, put is in poll position to secure this prestigious event.

The menus were inspired by the great British summer picnic; so we sourced ingredients from every corner of the British Isles. Again, this is where our supplier relationships, some of which stretch back decades, came into their own. Many are experts in their own fields. This means we know we can be confident in delivering to our high standards. We also regularly benchmark our products by visiting centres of excellence to make sure we’re developing products of the very best quality and appearance. 

We sample a number of the menu options (it’s a hard life, isn’t it?) and then carefully selected the very best recipes to create the menu. Seeing it all come together – with its unique design and wicker basket – and then having the opportunity to taste with the Patrons’ Committee was really exciting. I was so proud.

It’s hard to pick a favourite item but if I absolutely had to choose one, I’d have to say the Free Range Pembrokeshire chicken roulade salad with Wye Valley Asparagus, Cornish New Potatoes, pea shoots and a herb drizzle. It’s delicious, fresh tasting  and captures the flavours of a British summer – ideal for a picnic on the Mall even if it’s for 10, 000 people.

No project I have worked on has been so exciting. I can’t wait until 12th June!

Inside M&S
21 April, 2016

Not your average birthday

Anna is a Category Technical Manager at M&S, overseeing Meat, Poultry and Fish. She was delighted to play a role in creating the perfect menu and hamper as part of the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations.

We’ve been delighted to play such an important role in the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations. It really has been an honour and a privilege. Our food meets the highest standards so it’s ideal for such an auspicious occasion as the Queen’s Patron event. 

We’ve created six hamper varieties that the Patron’s Lunch guest can choose from. Everyone has different requirements and we pride ourselves on being able to cater to them all. Our menu has been specially selected by our New Product Development team, closely supported by our team of Technologists and Buyers. It provides a perfect picnic lunch for the guests, as well as a fabulous afternoon tea. 

To start, guests will enjoy a delicious smoked salmon starter topped with Sandringham oak smoked Lochmuir salmon. This will be followed by a roast, free-range Pembrokeshire chicken roulade with Wye Valley Asparagus and minted Cornish potatoes. For dessert, there’ll be a Raspberry Royale with Tulameen Raspberries. These are just a few of the exciting hamper goodies.

We set out to create the perfect menu; something that showcased the very best of the season and what the British Isles has to offer. Our supplier partners have been a huge support in creating the menu too. We think both the menu and hamper will delight the guests on The Mall.  

The finished products are the result of months of planning. Every function from the Food Group; New Product Development, Technology and Packaging to Logistics, Buyers, Marketing and PR, have been involved. So it’s been a fantastic example of team work.

Working closely with The Patron’s Lunch Organisers has been great. Not only since you work on delivering the hamper but also the event as a whole. Being Technical, I’m allowed to say that the detail and precision that has gone into the planning of the hampers, and their delivery, has been a career highlight. I look forward to telling my children about our involvement in this historic event. 

Inside M&S
15 April, 2016

Baking is in the blood

For as long as he can remember, baking has been a part of Davide’s life. His parents owned a big bakery in the centre of Turin and then opened a pizzeria as well. Young Davide helped create the products and also worked front of house. He was instantly hooked – but what brought him to M&S?

“Part of my university course at the University of Turin focused on English culture and M&S came up as a big British brand and a real retail institution,” he explains. “My dream was always to live in England – I love the country’s history and the monarchy – and M&S was the first company I applied to when I came over.”
It’s not easy getting to grips with products, customers and business policies in an unfamiliar language, so how did Davide get on?

“I was a bit nervous at first, my confidence wasn’t exactly sky high, but everyone made a real effort to help me settle in. You live and learn. In my first week, a customer came to me and I thought she wanted a sandwich. I took her to Food on the Move, but it turned out she was after a toothbrush! I explained I was new to England and she saw the funny side.”

Davide has been with M&S in Brighton for just over a year now and his career and language skills have come on leaps and bounds. He’s absolutely passionate about baking and we’ve supported his development so he can now pass on that passion to others. He’s a ‘high performer’ who goes above and beyond his job description by setting up weekly meetings and training and coaching a number of Customer Assistants within our In Store Bakery. 

“I love working in the bakery, being creative with displays and the finished product, and seeing a smile spread across a customer’s face when they buy some of our goodies. I’m a naturally happy person and I’ve used my personality to inspire other team members. I enjoy working with people from different cultures and my aim is make sure everyone in the bakery is at the top of their game.”

Davide lives our values every day. He’s always searching for new ways to excite customers and, as you might imagine, an In Store Bakery is a place where innovation can shine. But Davide has taken innovation to a new level.

“I use Yammer to keep up to date with what’s going on in the business and see what other bakeries are doing. I’ve also set up a WhatsApp group so colleagues in the bakery can stay in touch and keep abreast of rosters, products and standards.”

The last year has been a constant learning experience for Davide which he’s found exciting and fulfilling. He’s also delivered where it matters – the bakery has recently been awarded a 5* rating for Food Safety. So does Davide have time for anything else?

“I love dancing and going to the gym – that’s why I don’t feel guilty about enjoying my favourite M&S product: the berry smoothie. And I’m a big Madonna fan, having seen her in concert 10 times in as many years!”

Inside M&S
14 April, 2016

Clearing the final hurdle

Steph has worked in recruitment since 2007. As one of our Recruitment Managers, she’s found new talent for most business areas within M&S. No-one knows the retail sector or the changing landscape of the recruiter and candidate market like Steph. So her tips on clearing the final hurdle to get your dream job are well worth reading, whether you’re new to interviews or an old hand.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Preparation is everything. Sounds obvious but many people don’t take the time to think about how they will tackle this stage of the process. So don’t let your interview be a leap into the unknown. Know your stuff. This means doing your research, on us as a business, as well as the role and the department you’ll be working in. Read about us in the news; use our website to get the lowdown on where you fit into the bigger picture. Get clued up – because not knowing is pretty much unforgiveable.

Anticipate our questions; prepare the best answers.

If you think about it, figuring out the structure and purpose of an interview is not that tough. We want to know about you, your skills and how they relate to the role. How you illustrate this will be key; it will make you stand out from the crowd. If you think carefully about what we’re likely to ask you and come armed with the right ammunition, your answers will be right on target and impress us. Think about what competencies the role requires; how have you demonstrated these in your life to date? All experience is good experience. Make sure you make the most of the questions we ask to paint as full and as vivid a picture of yourself as possible.

First impressions last.

Dress for success; dress to impress. We like our people to be smart – in their thinking and their appearance. Choose an appropriate outfit that shows you’re professional and will be a good ambassador for our brand. Be punctual. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time for your interview; better too early than too late. Be confident. Greet your interviewer with a smile and firm handshake; keep an appropriate amount of eye contact and be engage. We understand you may be nervous but try and relax. If you’ve prepared, you’ll do well. We’re not here to catch you out; we want you to succeed. Above all, be yourself. Your individuality has brought you this far, so let it shine through.

Be positive, be engaged, be you.

That last point is vital, so it’s probably worth exploring in more detail. Individuality is something we really value; yours will be your best asset. Know how to sell yourself and show yourself in the best light possible. If you have positive body language, appear focused and engaged, that’s half the battle won. Remember the four ‘Cs’: be clear, confident, candid and concise in your answers. If you’ve prepared well, you’ll do well.

We’re buying you, so sell, sell, sell.

Nobody knows you better than you do. Accentuate your positives, show us your personality. We’re a people business so paint us a portrait of who you are and what you can be in the future. Don’t just let your qualifications speak for themselves; they won’t say enough on their own. We want the back story. We want to know what makes you tick; what excites you. You don’t need to be arrogant to sell who you are. If you package yourself and serve up put all your selling points on display, you’ll be less likely to get left on the shelf.

You need to buy us too.

Question us. Grill us, if necessary. This is your chance to put us on the spot. We like intelligent, enquiring minds. Prepare your questions carefully. Don’t ask the obvious, we’ll expect you to have done your research. Use your questions to demonstrate you’ve thought about the role and your future with the business. You might like to ask us about our values; to walk you through a typical day; our vision for the future. Whatever you ask, frame your question carefully and engage with the answer. A good interview should be an enjoyable conversation – and conversations take two.

Remember, it’s your interview. Get the most from it you possibly can. Enjoy it. Believe in yourself. You’ve made it this far – and that’s an achievement in itself. Digest the points above and we’re sure you’ll clear that final hurdle. Best of luck, we look forward to meeting you. 

(And don’t forget – prepare!).

Inside M&S
11 April, 2016

Putting theory into practice

I knew I wanted to work in retail; I’d completed my Higher Certificate in Fashion Retail Merchandising – but I still wasn’t completely sure where I wanted to go next. Luckily, I’d heard of the Fashion Retail Academy (FRA) and was aware that it was sponsored by top UK retailers. Initially, I was able to secure a place on a five-day course in Buying and Merchandising. This was just what I needed. It helped me finally decide that my skills were much more suited to merchandising, so I applied for the full course.

One of the best things about the FRA was the tutors. They were still very active in the retail industry; many are ex buyers, merchandisers or suppliers, so they had a deep insight into what it takes to do the job and do it well. It was great to learn the theory behind everything, and then put it into practice on my three-week work placement.

When the course was complete, M&S was the obvious choice for me. It wasn’t simply because of their association with the FRA; I’d grown up with them. This was a big influence on my decision, together with the fact they’re such an iconic retailer. I applied for their graduate scheme as this would fast track me into an Assistant Merchandiser role. The variety of placements and course, and the chance to work in store, were a big factor too. It really helped me get inside our customers’ heads and understand what pushed their buttons.

The training programme really is excellent. As well as the technical courses which teach you the detail of how to do your job, there are also lots of courses to develop you as a person; things like leadership skills, negotiating and product knowledge. It’s also a great feeling to work for such a well-known and well-loved brand – I feel really proud to work for M&S.

Teamwork is a huge part of what we do. I’ve never met people so passionate and enthusiastic about making things happen. The 20% store discount comes in handy too. One of the best things about my job is going to factories to understand how our products are made. We’re very big on integrity and doing the right thing. Ensuring our suppliers work in an ethical manner is part of this. It gives you a different perspective on things and helps us build relationships built on trust and shared values.

As a Junior Merchandiser, I'm in charge of my own multi-million-pound-turnover department. It's a huge responsibility and incredibly exciting. What we do is valued by the business because it has a tangible impact on sales. I love both the creative and analytical aspects of what I do, so I can see myself staying in the same career path and learning as much as I possibly can.

To anyone thinking of joining, I'd say you need to be passionate, self-motivated and flexible; we're a fast-paced business, so you have to adapt with it. I'd definitely try and get some work experience in a retail head office too; it will give you useful insights and make you a more marketable proposition to an employer. Remember, also, that fashion isn't necessarily as glamorous as people think; it can be hard work too. That being said, I find it the most exciting and challenging environment. So that's why I love it.

Inside M&S
11 April, 2016

The perfect destination for a Food Hall

Ferndown in Dorset is the latest town to get the M&S Food Hall treatment. The 8,900 square feet of brand new, deliciously-filled food retailing space has been purpose-built on a site previously occupied by a car wash and second hand lot. 

With a population of 27,000, Ferndown has the perfect demographic for one of our Food Halls with all the trimmings. And this store certainly has plenty of those. We’ll be offering an In-Store Bakery, food ordering, a Shop Your Way collection and order service, and one of our very first Coffee to Go outlets. So customers and colleagues can enjoy their macchiato whilst they shop or take home a steaming flat white.

The new store will be hard to miss, located as it is on the main A348 Ringwood Road to the west of the town; there’s also the benefit of good bus links and plenty of car parking spaces. 

Graeme, Ferndown’s new Store Manager can’t wait to open the doors in June: “We’ll be looking for Customer Assistants to work on the Salesfloor and in Store Operations. And with core operating hours from 6am to 9pm there will be a range of early morning, evening and weekend shifts available – full and part-time.”

“To be able to bring together a talented and passionate team to M&S Ferndown Food Hall will be a proud moment. There is a genuine excitement about this store opening and I feel a real responsibility to ensure our store lives up to people’s expectations. We will work with the local community, bringing employment opportunities to the area and invest our time and energy in local charity partnerships.”

If you’re interested in joining our brilliant store team, why not apply for one of our roles here.

Inside M&S


Subscribe to M&S Careers RSS