3 December, 2015

A milestone we can all be proud of

In May 2011, Marks & Spencer plc appointed Remploy as its official disability partner. This partnership has now supported 2,000 candidates into employment at M&S stores nationwide and in our logistics business at our national distribution centre at Castle Donington.

As the UK's leading provider of disability employment services, Remploy was chosen to recruit, retain and sustain talented individuals who face barriers getting into work both through its direct hire service and M&S' Marks & Start work placement programme. Through Remploy's direct hire service, M&S has access to a group of job-ready, capable and motivated candidates who are already aware of what M&S looks for in a successful employee.

Eliese Bull became the milestone 2,000th Remploy candidate to be recruited by us when she landed a job as a bakery assistant at our Foodhall in Camden, London.

The 34-year-old mum from nearby Archway described her relief at being back in work following two years’ unemployment, which resulted in her being diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

“I worked for 10 years as a health care assistant but had to give up my job when my daughter was born three years ago,” she explained. “After a time I was desperate to get back to work but I lacked confidence and started to doubt that any employer would want to take me on.”

It was only when Eliese was referred to Remploy’s Caledonian Road branch in London for specialist support with her job searching that she began to regain her self-belief.

“My employment advisor was absolutely superb,” recalled Eliese. “She provided me with one-to-one support, boosted my confidence and prepared me for interviews that she insisted would come. I hadn’t had an interview for more than a decade so the prospect was intimidating, to say the least.” 

The support paid off when Eliese successfully completed a development session in branch, which allowed her to bypass our online recruitment process and secure an interview directly with our store in Camden. The interview included a work trial where she impressed them straightaway, and was offered a full time role in the busy bakery.

Said Eliese: “I was overjoyed when I was told I had got the job. Everyone was so friendly and helpful at the store, and immediately made me feel part of the team.”

Her new role involves 5am starts, ensuring bread and pastries are in the oven and ready for the store opening two hours later. “I don’t mind having to be up early and I’m only a 15 minute bus ride away. The important thing is I have a job I enjoy and I am happy again. I’ve regained my financial independence and have made many new friends. Life couldn’t be better.”

Bakery manager Karen Stokes added: “Eliese is making good progress. She has a bubbly personality, which is just what is needed for a career in the retail sector.

“The great thing about having a job at M&S is that provided you are willing to work hard and use your initiative, there are no limits to what you can achieve.” 

Tanith Dodge, HR Director added: “We’re delighted to have reached this milestone moment with Remploy. Through Marks & Start, we hope to give individuals just like Eliese the opportunity that can be the turning point they need to change their lives for the better. We know the scheme also motivates and engages our existing employees, creates new development opportunities and builds a real sense of pride within our teams.” 

For more information on our Marks & Start work placement programme, click here.

Inside M&S
1 December, 2015

Food, glorious food

Food has always been part of the M&S story. Back in 1884, our Penny Bazaars sold some basic food items, like flour, spices and confectionary. Over 130 years later, our Food offer has evolved into one of the most sophisticated, respected and expert operations in retail. It’s been quite some journey, too. The comprehensive food ranges sold by the M&S of today bear no relation to how things were when we were starting out. But, through a series of industry firsts, commercial savvy and an awareness of what our customers want, slowly but surely we grew into a power house of food innovation.

The iconic M&S sandwich first made its appearance back in 1929. They were sold at our ice-cream counters which were introduced to our stores two years earlier. Nine decades later and they remain one of our staple products. Our dedicated food department opened in all stores in 1931. Initially, they sold canned goods, fruit, vegetables and cakes but, throughout the thirties, we extended the range to include cooked meats, sausages, pies, cheese and bacon in selected stores. By the end of the decade, we’d introduced Café Bars to a small number of stores and established our own fruit distribution centre in London’s Covent Garden.

Industry firsts

After the privations of WW2, we set about making some significant changes to our food business. One was the appointment of Technical Executive and Chief Chemist, Nathan Goldenberg. This was not just a first for us, but a first for the industry too. Goldenberg’s Food Technology department was responsible for improving quality control, hygiene and safety standards. 1948 also saw the introduction of self-service food shopping; transforming our retail space and reducing waiting times.

The 60s ushered a whole new raft of firsts for the business. Chief among these was the sale of fresh, chilled chicken in store and the launch of our very first stand-alone Food Store. We were ahead of the curve in the 70s too. ‘Sell-by’ dates were introduced on our products – an innovation that was quickly copied by other retailers and, eventually, became law. Convenience foods and more exotic food ranges also first appeared in the 70s, reflecting the changing lifestyles and tastes of the time. So popular was our pre-prepared Chicken Kiev that we set up a factory solely for making this product.

New meals, new counters

When the 80s arrived, we relaunched our sandwich range. Prawn and Mayonnaise proved to be the most popular when it launched in 1981. The middle of the decade saw the introduction of a new range of vegetarian meals, including lasagne and moussaka. By the 90s, we were reaching out to our customers in a new way through rear-service deli counters, butcher shops, loose fruit and vegetables, and wet fish counters all appearing for the first time. Percy Pigs were launched in 1993 and over one billion have now been sold.

Counting the calories

The noughties kicked off in typically innovative fashion with the launch of our reduced calories, less than 3% fat Count on Us range in 2000, followed by our decision to use only free range eggs in all of our products in 2002. The Melt in the Middle Chocolate Pudding arrived in 2004 – sales of which rocketed by 3000% after its ‘This is not just food, this is M&S food’ TV ad aired. As the decade drew to a close, we’d launched our popular Dine in For Two for £10 promotion.

In recent years, our customers’ appetite for products that fit their lifestyles has been met with new innovations. The Fuller Longer range was developed with effective weight loss in mind, while Simply M&S offered everyday food products at great value prices.   

Inside M&S
1 December, 2015

Our shining star of HR

After studying for an Acting degree on the University of Central Lancashire, Rebecca worked part-time for an HR consultancy. This inspired a change of course in her career.

“I enjoyed working at the HR consultancy so much, I decided to start a post-graduate qualification in HR Management. I love working with people so it seemed a natural next step. What’s more, I’d developed quite a few transferrable skills during the course of my Acting degree. During my post-graduate studies, I came across the HR Graduate Management Scheme at M&S. I wasn’t sure if I’d still be eligible as I’d graduated back in 2007 but I applied and, I’m very happy to say, was successful.

“People are quite clearly key at M&S. It’s a brand that’s recognised for the quality of its customer service, so attracting and developing the right talent is crucial. This really appealed to me, particularly as I’d grown up with M&S and had an interest in retail and fashion.

“My first four months of the programme were spent in store. There wasn’t a specific HR angle but I did get involved with various commercial activities across Food and General Merchandise. This gave me a good understanding of how the business functions on the frontline, as well as an insight into the people strategy. This gave me a solid knowledge base to build on.

“Next, I spent four months in People Policy Specialist team. There is a great deal involved in running a successful store and line managers need support from HR on a range of policy-related queries; anything at all to do with managing people really. This was followed by some time spent shadowing a Learning & Development Consultant who covered the North West region. M&S prides itself on its high-performance culture and understands the importance of investing in its people accordingly. So I spent eight weeks finding my way around everything from inductions and workshops to training in a broader sense. 

“My final rotation involved working alongside a Resource and Succession Consultant who was responsible for recruiting and training Section Managers. M&S really does believe in nurturing its talent and giving people the opportunity to go as far as their potential can take them. I think this is what attracted me to HR in the first place; the focus on people and supporting and developing them. It’s incredibly rewarding.

“My first appointment meant moving from the North West to London to take up a Head Office position within the Talent Team. I spent three months working with the Head of Talent dealing with senior-level recruitment and went on to work as Talent Consultant in my own right. Since then, my career has come on in leap and bounds. My technical HR knowledge is getting stronger all the time and I was nominated for – and won – HR Star of the Quarter recently for my work on a new performance management system.”

Inside M&S
1 December, 2015


Open evening: Brooklands store, Weds 2nd Dec, 4pm-8pm.

A lot of time, effort, commitment and energy goes into making every M&S store everything our customers expect it to be. Our Brooklands store in Surrey is no exception. A team of over 300 of our dedicated people work hard every day to make it a success. It offers the best in food and fashion, not to mention free parking. We’re a holding a recruitment event on Wednesday 2nd December, so if you pride yourself on your high standards and would like to join the team, this is your chance to do so. But first, we thought you might like to meet our Brooklands Store Manager, Alex Kilborn and hear from her what’s kept her with us all these years.

I’ve always seen M&S as a high-street stalwart; an integral part of British culture. So when I decided to pursue a career in retail, it was top of my list. No other retailer has quite the same kudos as M&S and that’s why I chose to work here.

“I joined via the retail graduate programme after studying Politics at Bristol University. I quickly learned that, because there is so much involved in running an M&S store, every day was different. I was quite nervous on my first day but meeting the team soon put me at my ease; everyone was very friendly. There was a lot to take in during my early days – there still is! – but this meant there was enormous scope for me to develop – and that counts for a lot.

“I love meeting new people; be they customers or new joiners. It’s probably why I chose a career in retail – and because M&S is so innovative with its product range and so in touch with what customers want, I take a great deal of pride in selling our products. The fact that my team is so close knit and good at what they do makes my job a real pleasure too. Getting to know them and seeing them develop really gives me a buzz.

“There’s so much scope to explore your ambitions. Before I came to this store, I’d worked as Commercial Manager across a variety of London stores, as well as taking on a stint in a regional finance and operations role. As well as making the most of in-work opportunities, M&S has supported me to go to Oxford Summer School which is a cross-retail residential course with loads of different organisations.  I’m also currently part of the 30% club which is all about supporting women to progress their careers. This also gives me an external mentor which is really helpful and very interesting.

“Values play a big part in what we do at M&S. I sit on the Fit for The Future working group which looks at how we bring these to life in retail. Colleagues have commented on how much they look to our values and how these help guide what they do on a daily basis.

“The social side of things is fun too. I’ve met some great people and I even met my husband here. There’s a real mix in what goes on; one minute I could be doing a store walk round with board members and city analysts; the next my Head of Region might pop up with a Percy Pig head on – which, incidentally, are my favourite M&S product. Those or our gorgeous cashmere; it’s a tough call.

To apply for our Brooklands' store roles. click here.

Inside M&S
1 December, 2015


John McHugh is the first to admit his life has been eventful. The 53-year-old from Beeston, Nottinghamshire spent much of his childhood in care and then joined the Parachute Regiment when he was 17. Whilst in the Paras, he sustained life-threatening back and head injuries in a parachute accident only to defy the odds and resume his forces career in the Tank Regiment.

However, when family commitments forced him to return to Civvy Street in 1985 John faced possibly his biggest challenge; finding a new career that fitted with his role as a single parent to a large family.

“I had dozens of part-time and temporary jobs, but nothing for most of the past 10 years,” said John, who has difficulties with his short term memory as a result of the head injury sustained in his parachute accident and who also has dyslexia.

Referred to Remploy’s city-centre branch in Nottingham, he received specialist one-to-one support with his job searching, to help rebuild his confidence and put together a CV that highlighted his skills and abilities to potential employers.

“John comes across as an extremely confident and outgoing person when you first meet him, but it soon became apparent that he was scared about going back to work after such a long period of unemployment,” said Sue French, Remploy’s ‘Armed Forces Champion at its Nottingham branch. “He is a very proud man and asking for help was very tough. But we were able to provide expert advice and, crucially, spend time helping to prepare him to get back to work.”

John then successfully undertook an accredited four-week Marks & Start Logistics’ training and work placement programme, at the end of which he was immediately offered a role as a warehouse operative at our Distribution Centre in Castle Donington. John is grateful for the support he has received from Remploy and M&S. “Sue and her colleagues – and the M&S team were brilliant. They encouraged and cajoled me and gave me the confidence to go for this job, which I absolutely love.

“I was nervous when I started my new role, but the training provided by M&S has been first class, inspirational! I have learnt so much in a short space of time. It only goes to show that there is a job out there for everyone.”

Source: this article originally appeared on Civvy Street

Inside M&S
1 December, 2015


During his third year doing Business Studies in Coventry, Tom Footitt took a business placement programme to get real experience leading people. After searching extensively online, Tom was attracted to M&S, so the head of his business course put him in touch with a store manager who’d been with the brand for 27 years. And the result? Tom is now one of our new and promising store managers.

“I spoke to some of my parents’ friends who’ve worked for M&S in the past, to get a better feel for what it would be like to work for the brand. After I finished my placement year, I went on to complete my degree before returning to a place on the graduate scheme at M&S. I was on the shop floor from day one.”

“The amazing thing is I’m 23 and I’m a store manager already. You’ve literally got the backing of a huge company and the opportunity to learn a lot very quickly. In retail management you can learn a skill-set in one area and then move on to another function within the store, where you learn other skills and develop different leadership qualities.”

“The most important thing is: you’ve got to be resilient, you’ve got to be able to battle through because you’re going to be put in challenging scenarios straight away. You need to be pro-active in your approach and realise it’s your career, it’s your placement year or graduate scheme, you’ve got to make as much of it as possible. It’s about getting out of bed every day and inspiring your team to deliver a top-tier performance for your brand. However stressed you may be feeling you need to make sure your team can rely on you to be a leader and a good manager, so they can do the best job.”

“The work culture is inspiring. It’s really about quality and being a team. You owe it to yourself and the people you work with to do a good job because you depend on one another. The people I work with are good fun, they’re engaging, they want to deliver and they want to be the best at what they do. I think they are representative of everything we stand for as a company.”

“I think the best thing is that at the end of every day, you go away reflecting on all the good work you’ve done and how you can do even better for yourself and your team next time. That process leads you to grow on so many levels and I’m grateful for having a job that makes me feel like every day I’m changing for the better.”

Inside M&S
1 December, 2015


M&S has supported The Royal British Legion for many years through allowing its volunteers to sell poppies in M&S stores or on forecourts. Thanks to you, £1 million was collected by the Royal British Legion's volunteers at M&S stores for their 2014 Poppy Appeal and in addition M&S donated over £900,000 to The Legion predominantly through donating all the profit from the sale of Poppy products

M&S's donation will help support The Legion’s grants programme, which is designed to help current Armed Forces personnel and veterans with a variety of different needs, including employability and independent living support.

But that’s not all. As part of our commitment to supporting the employment of members of the armed forces and their partners/ families, we encourage all applications. Whether you’re looking for a store, head-office, distribution or early careers opportunity, we’ve got the role for you.

All of our M&S jobs can be found here. When applying for a role, please quote supportedvetsrecruitment either on your application form or at the top of your CV.

For further information on our partnership with The Royal British Legion, you can read the full article here.

Inside M&S
30 November, 2015

The future looks bright for David

Armed Forces veteran David Parker turned to Remploy for support when his extreme anxiety and loss of confidence prevented him from making a fresh start and finding employment in Civvy Street.

David’s condition, triggered by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also caused him to stammer in difficult and stressful situations.

The 28-year-old from Glasgow was referred to Remploy’s branch in the city where he received tailored support with job searching, including confidence building and help creating a standout CV that highlighted his skills to potential employers.

The support paid-off when he secured a work placement on our Marks & Start scheme – an employability programme designed to help individuals gain vital employability skills through an accredited placement (underpinned by individual coaching and training), for community members facing barriers to work.

Not long after successfully completing the placement, David received and accepted a permanent job offer as a Customer Service Assistant in the busy Foodhall at M&S’s Silverburn store in Glasgow.

“This has been life changing for me,” he said. “I learned so much on the Marks & Start scheme, which gave me valuable experience of the retail world. Now that I have a permanent job at M&S the future is so much brighter and I feel I can start making plans again.” Added David: “Employers were overlooking me because of my condition and my own lack of confidence hindered my job search, which fed my depression and stress. I felt I was in a vicious circle and was only able to break out when Remploy and M&S showed faith in me. I now feel comfortable in my own skin again, much more like the old me.”

Betty Niven, Recruitment Coordinator at our Silverburn store said: “I’m delighted for David, who is proving a hard-working and popular colleague. At M&S we look beyond disability and focus on a person’s ability. Our Marks & Start programme offers a chance for candidates to move back into a work environment and, in many cases, a route into permanent work – either with us or other employers.”

Source: this article originally appeared on Civvy Street 

Inside M&S
30 November, 2015

Innovation is in the very fabric of our business

The success of today’s M&S owes a great debt of gratitude to a long and rich track record of innovation. These are the foundations on which our business has been built and the points of difference that have set us apart on the high street for generations. Giving our customers something new, something appealing, something that stands out from the crowd has meant our business had continued to evolve. Whether it’s a big idea that meets our customers’ needs or focusing in on the smallest detail, innovation has been the product of our unceasing drive to do things differently and make things better. Here are just a few examples that illustrate the point.

Feel-good factor

From the ashes of WW2 rose an accelerated scientific and technological progress across the textile and clothing industry. Wartime restrictions meant clothes were produced with utility and practicality in mind, rather than fashion aesthetics. But even in those straightened times, M&S began to develop new print technologies to embellish the bland and beat the drab and the dull clothing that constituted the majority of customer choice.

After the war, as the make-do-and-mend mentality cautiously gave way to a return to relative prosperity, M&S seized on the growing feel-good factor by establishing a Print Design Department. This offered support to buying departments and their suppliers on the types, patterns and colours of prints for their growing garment range. The creative and original designs this key department conceived played a vital role in reinvigorating our fashion ranges. So rich was it in diversity and imagination that, even today, our buyers and designers plunder the archives in search of inspiration for their own product ranges.

Eye-catching motifs

As the sixties gave way to the seventies, it was the skills and artistry of Margaret Nash’s embroidery motifs that were causing a stir. Her art background in St Albans and Goldsmiths inspired her designs for everything from ladies’ blouses, skirts, dresses, lingerie and swimwear to menswear and childrenswear. It was this last range for which she reserved a special fondness, with clothes featuring cheeky animated animals or pretty stitching for girls’ dresses. Margaret, herself, said, "I always felt when you designed for children that there should be a little bit of humour attached."

Knitwear revolution

It was perhaps Ismar Glasman that left the greatest impression on our business. Our Senior Executive of Yarn & Colour Technology from 1950 to the mid-80s, Glasman was responsible for revolutionising British Knitwear. Improvements to textile quality control, such as colour fastness, colour matching and colour printing was just the start of the story. His impressive legacy also includes making knitwear machine-washable, increasing its wearability and value, as well as the introduction of colour transfer-printing. This not only revolutionised textile design but also gave rise to a successful British industry to produce the specialist transfer paper.

Inside M&S
30 November, 2015


At Marks and Spencer, we’re proud of our fantastic stores across the UK and around the world. And when talking about our stores one name in particular stands out: London Colney in Colney Fields Retail Park. One of the largest stores within M&S, it is a busy, dynamic environment with an exceptional emphasis on customer service, and exemplifies our commitment to innovation and excellence.

At the moment we are hosting an evening event on Monday November 9th from 4:00pm to 7:00pm to recruit a through-the-night team for vacancies within the store and in the operations area.

In anticipation of this event we spoke to Carol Mitchell. Carol’s story is one of dedication and success. At the start of her career she was working at M&S only one day a week, on Saturday, but thanks to her love for the buzz of retail, today she is the Finance and Operations Manager of London Colney.

“I was a Saturday girl, then I worked weekends whilst at college, then joined the graduate scheme and I have worked in all areas of the store up and down the country. I even had a spell in head office and am now back in stores again. My role covers most of the parts that the customer doesn’t see. If I had to describe my job in three words I’d say it’s exciting, varied and busy.”

Planning the week’s events and then seeing it all come together for the customer is a great thrill for Carol. The varied work and social environment keeps things exciting but the best thing, she says, is knowing you’ve got the support of your team throughout even the most quirky challenges.

“M&S provided me with learning opportunities to develop my career through courses but more importantly through the great people that I have worked with.”

For Carol, one of her proudest moments at M&S has been seeing people that she trained progress in their career and she’s hoping to enjoy more of those moments in the future.

When asked about what advice she’d give someone starting a job at M&S, she said: “Relax and be yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, we have all been new once. If you’re determined to succeed you’ll get all the support you need.”

The recruitment event on Monday evening, November 9th will seek to fill our Christmas vacancies including our through-the-night team vacancies. In addition to a competitive salary, 20% staff discount and other great benefits, there are incredible opportunities for future career development within M&S. 
Come and step through London Colney’s doors. They are wide open and we can’t wait to meet you! 

Inside M&S


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