11 September, 2015

Even greener

We have completed the installation of the UK’s largest, single, roof-mounted solar panel on our Castle Donington distribution centre. Spanning the site’s 84 sq metre roof, the structure will generate more than 5,000 MWh of electricity per year – the same amount of energy used to power 1,190 houses. It will lower our carbon footprint by 48,000 tonnes over 20 years and provide nearly 25% of the energy required for the fully automated distribution centre – which is big enough to hold 11 football pitches.

In March, we also unveiled our largest green wall at our Newcastle store – one of our most eco-friendly and visually impressive stores in the North-East. The most striking development is the 167sq metre green wall on the side of the building. The green wall features alongside several other eco-friendly changes in store. Intelligent door sensors and a new heat-reclaim system will all help to improve the store’s efficiency by 20% while enhancing the customer experience.

We have another green wall planned for our new Longbridge store, the largest M&S store in the West Midlands, opening later this year.

Inside M&S
7 September, 2015

The gift that keeps giving

The staff at Marks and Spencer in Douglas, Isle of Man, are supporting Muscular Dystrophy UK through to March 2016. They’ve started fundraising with a whole range of events which have so far raised £3000. Here’s a round-up of their activity so far in this year of fundraising:

The charity team at the store have been selling damaged and shop soiled stock to staff along with charity branded wristbands. They are also holding staff cake bakes to increase the amount they raise.

In partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Isle of Man branch, they have held a customer bag pack during TT races week in June. This is the time when the store is at its busiest with thousands of people visit the island.

The team also took part in the annual Douglas Carnival and decorated their double decker bus float in the style of a 70’s disco. Not only did they attract plenty of onlookers but they also managed to collect £311 from members of the public. They also picked up the award for best dressed vintage vehicle. As a result they received a £100 restaurant voucher and raffled that to increase funds further.

Staff member Maria also walked a staggering 42 miles of the annual 85-mile round island Parish Walk which takes place on the island every June and raised £295 for her efforts.

“I pushed my muscles that extra few miles when I thought about the people affected by Muscular Dystrophy and how my own muscles would recover with simply a hot bath and a rest”

Activities continued at the beginning of August with a quiz night and disco at the Douglas Yacht Club who kindly provided the room free of charge. Staff did all the food themselves and organised the music too. The night was great fun and raised £570 with the Olly’s Angels team coming out as winners on the night.

Future plans include another customer bag pack, a bingo afternoon at Palace Bingo Douglas and a bike ride to raise sponsorship for staff member Martin Alman. Martin is doing a Dive with Sharks event in October. In addition a member of staff will also be taking part in Make Today Count next February.

Keep up the good work guys!

Inside M&S
7 September, 2015

Any room for another award?

Store Manager Tanya has a built up a list of achievements at M&S that’s so long we can’t fit everything in here. So we asked her to just give us the highlights.

“I have worked in over 10 stores during my time at M&S. So I’ve had plenty of opportunity to do what I really love – which is to take my team on the journey and inspire them. The achievement I think I remember best was being given the chance to turn our Swiss Cottage store around. It was one of the bottom five stores when it came to business service score. But with a lot of hard work from my team we made it into one of the best in the country. The whole team got to enjoy our success with Sacha Berendji and Robert Swannell when they came to visit the store to celebrate service with us.

I give it my all to be an inspirational leader and I connect with everyone from the CEO to cleaner. There’s hidden potential in everyone. One thing I noticed as I worked in stores around the country was that many great ideas from the front line were not getting pitched at CEO/Director level. I thought the business was missing a real trick by allowing good thinking to go to waste. So I worked with Steve Hewitt on an idea called ‘Give me 5’. It’s a Dragons’ Den-style format that means anyone from any level can get five minutes to pitch an innovative idea to senior management. Marc Bolland loved the idea and took it to the business at a national level.

It’s great to be part of a business that’s values fit with my own. I’ve learnt from some great leaders and feel that I’m in charge of my own development, you get out what you put in. I’d like to think that’s why I’ve been awarded store manager of Q4 2015 at the business conference and I was highly commended for the Chairman’s Cup. My proudest achievement so far has been to win the Asian Women of Achievement award 2015.

I’ll let you into a secret. I’m a big Formula 1 racing fan and support the Mercedes team and Lewis Hamilton! I’m excited to be going to Singapore this year, and hopefully travelling more of the world to watch the racing.”

Inside M&S
12 August, 2015

Your A level results are in, what do you do next? Hear our school leaver success stories.

Thursday 13th August. It’s the day that you’ve been working towards for some time now; the day when you finally discover whether all your efforts have paid off. It could also be a major turning point in your life. Will you go on to study at uni? Or, maybe, you’ll choose to go straight into the world of work. If you’ve managed to get two A-levels and want to continue your development in a work environment, the M&S Management Scheme for School Leavers could be just the path you’re looking for.

Many have chosen this route for all kinds of reasons. For Scott, one of our school leaver alumni, it was because he felt uni just wasn’t for him. “I went to uni for a year but I’m more of a doer. I learn by being hands on. That’s what attracted me to the scheme. I didn’t want to sit in a classroom any more. I wanted to get stuck into a role that led somewhere and could make the most of my potential.”

Anna is another one of our managers who came up through the school leaver scheme. “The M&S scheme is designed for you to achieve more. It’s an accelerated programme that helps you go further, faster. So if you’re ambitious, it’s tailor made for you. You have to work hard but you get from the scheme whatever you’re prepared to put in.”

The scheme has been designed for ambitious, highly driven and commercially aware school leavers who want to pursue a career in retail. It focuses on helping you make the most of your potential and, ultimately, leads to a role as a store or commercial manager. This means you’ll be responsible for overseeing a multi-million-pound turnover, as well as leading and inspiring your in-store team. With this in mind, the scheme is not for the faint-hearted. However, if you have the self-confidence, determination and maturity we’re looking for, we can offer you all the support and guidance to accelerate your career in just 18 months.

So if you’re looking for a way to fulfil your potential, without saddling yourself with lots of debt, find out more about what the M&S Management Scheme for School Leavers could do for you at careers.marksandspencer.com/school-leavers

Inside M&S
6 August, 2015

Breathing new life into Longbridge

Once synonymous with the car industry, there was a time not so long ago when Longbridge, just south-west of central Birmingham, seemed to be an area that had fallen into terminal decline. But take a visit to the town now and you’ll see a remarkable transformation.

Longbridge is home to one of the UK’s largest regeneration projects – and at the heart of that project you’ll find a huge new M&S store. At 150,000 square foot, the two–storey unit will be the Midlands’ largest M&S store. Shoppers can expect find the very best that we have to offer, including womenswear, beauty, food, menswear, kidswear, home products and a café. The front of our striking new store will boast a living, breathing green wall, which will stay green throughout the year. A six floor multi-storey and 500 space surface car park make it all the more accessible for our employees and customers.

We’re currently busy planning our vacancies so why not register your interest in working for us.

We ask Mark Fruin, the new store manager leading this project, to tell us more:

“Round about Christmas 2015, there’ll be 150,000 sq. ft. more M&S in Longbridge than there was before! This will be a regional centre, and it’ll have all the features you’d expect. So for example – there’s a 250-seat café that includes a heated balcony for a bit of al fresco dining. Plus we’re putting in a Babyworld, a delicatessen bar, a nail bar and the full range of M&S home furnishings.

“But how it looks on the outside is just as important as what’s on the inside. We worked closely with Birmingham City Council’s planning team to design a store that fits in with the architectural ambition of this development and the city in general. So for example, we’re including a ‘green living wall’ (similar to the iconic features in our Cheshire Oaks and Newcastle stores). The planted wall will be irrigated naturally by rain water and will help create a stunning exterior for the store.

“I’m originally from London, but I’ve lived in Bromsgrove for many years – so I’m almost a local! I’ve seen the area change gradually from the old Rover works to the regeneration project we see today, and I’m proud of the role M&S has played at the heart of this community in Longbridge. As a business, we’ve wanted a site like this for years, so everyone is delighted that the West Midlands will have a store of this quality so conveniently sited in South West Birmingham. I just can’t wait to open the doors and welcome the customers – I look forward to seeing you there!”

Inside M&S
6 August, 2015

Our team bring that special M&S experience to Cowes, Isle of Wight

Our brand new Foodhall in Cowes has opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday 5th August.

Manager of the Terminus Road store, Nathaniel Dunkley and staff welcomed customers into our new 7,400 sq ft store at 10am with a celebratory ribbon cutting.

We have 4,000 food and drink lines on offer, including M&S’s popular Tastes of the British Isles food range. Local shoppers can also make sure of a new 24-seat Café, which will serve hot and cold dishes, desserts, sandwiches and a large selection of drinks including Fairtrade tea and coffee.

An in-store Bakery will offer a range of speciality breads, delicious pastries and cakes, freshly baked on site each day and the new store will provide the popular Shop Your Way and Food to Order services, as well as a selection of flowers, cards and gift wrap.

Store Manager, Nathaniel Dunkley, said:
“It’s great to finally welcome customers into the new store and show them what we have been working on for the past few months. The feedback we have received from customers today has been fantastic, particularly on the range of products available and the look and feel of the store. We believe the new Foodhall brings the best in quality and fresh food to shoppers in Cowes, and we look forward to welcoming customers over the weeks and months to come.”

We’re embarking on one of the largest food store openings in history and you can be part of it. Register now to confirm your interest in roles across any one of our new store openings. 

Inside M&S
31 July, 2015

Kevin reaches the peak of his career

Kevin Aird, a manager based at Three Spires Shopping Centre in Lichfield, helped raise £170,000 after biking 1,000 miles and climbing the five highest mountains of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales in just seven days.

The 31-year-old from Quinton took on the challenge as a group of 16 dedicated employees and friends, dubbed the Peaky Bikers, and believes it is the first time anybody has completed the route in such a way.

The £170,000-plus they have raised will be split between Prostate Cancer UK and the Marie Keating Foundation, a cancer awareness and education charity based in Ireland. The two charities were chosen because Kevin and the rest of his Peaky Bikers team had personal experience of the disease.

Kevin said: “I lost my grandparents to cancer but I also worked alongside a fellow M&S manager who had prostate cancer and quite an aggressive strain. His was a success story and he was back at work within weeks. It is quite close to my heart and shows that the fundraising we have done to help these charities and their research can really help people like him.

"We’ve done various charity events through M&S over the years and this was just an idea that came from us trying to do something a little bit more extreme – a bit mad even. It was always going to be a question as to whether we would manage it or not, and on the sixth day there was a point at which it seemed we weren’t going to make it, but we did in the end.”

Although many people tackle the three peaks of the UK, and also the five peaks Kevin and his team climbed, they usually have transport between the mountains provided, rather than cycle from one mountain to another.

The group averaged 137 miles of cycling every day - considerably more than the Tour de France bikers, who tackle 99 miles each day of their challenge.

“We don’t think anyone has previously cycled between all of the peaks, let alone tried to do the lot in seven days,” Kevin added. “But we wanted something that would really push the boundaries of what we could physically do.”

The 16-strong Peaky Bikers, took their challenge with gusto – training hard and gathering impressive amounts of sponsorship along the way. More donations are still coming in, and Kevin believes the pain and exhaustion the team endured was worth every minute.

He said: “Everyone had their low points, when they were so tired or just having a bad moment but we all pulled together and thankfully we did it.

“On day six we were nearly beaten, but we rallied and in the end we did our fastest mountain and best cycling that day. Everybody clubbed together, the adrenaline kicked in, and we were up and down Scafell Pike in record time.”

A keen cyclist, Kevin was confident during the biking parts of the challenge, but found the hill climbing a whole new experience.

The father-of-three said: “I had never hiked up a mountain - for me that was well out of my comfort zone but I enjoyed pushing myself.
“There were some amazing moments too, like watching the sunrise on Ben Nevis, that we will never experience again.”

Having worked at M&S since leaving school, Kevin was based in Birmingham before moving to become food manager at M&S’ branch in Three Spires Shopping Centre, Lichfield, in May.
The store backed his fundraising efforts by holding a special day to help. Kevin said: “The staff and all the customers really supported me. I spent a day on a static bike at the front of the shop and we had loads of donations. We raised £1,000 through that and for a store our size that’s brilliant.”

Three Spires Shopping Centre manager Lisa Prokopiou said: “Kevin and his fellow Peaky Bikers are to be congratulated on raising such a huge amount for these two excellent charities.
“Three Spires shoppers were very generous when Kevin held his in-store fund-raising event, and they have continued to support him. So many of us know somebody with cancer - it’s estimated that one in two people will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.”

Kevin is now planning more charity challenges in the coming months.

“Within a couple of days of finishing it there was already talk of what we might be doing next year and we’re all up for it. We hadn’t really met before, and then really gelled during this trip because we were all doing it with the same goal in mind so there’ll definitely be something else on the cards,” he added.

To make a donation to support the challenge visit justgiving.com/teams/fivepeaksbybikeandhike

Source: this article originally appeared on the Birmingham Mail

Inside M&S
29 July, 2015

Our International Employee Relations Manager, Fiona, is left feeling inspired by female role model, Dame Kelly Holmes

“I was truly delighted that Dame Kelly agreed to speak to us at our Women’s Network - she definitely inspired the team with her motivational presentation, which covered the highs and lows of her career and encouraged the group to “never stop striving to be better than you were before”.

“Dame Kelly is now a retired middle distance athlete, having great success during her career in athletics, including winning double gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics.  She won numerous awards for her achievements; including BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year and was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2005.  Since retiring from athletics in 2005, Dame Kelly has since run a very successful mentoring and education programme for young athletes and led England to success by topping the medal table at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in her role as President of England. 

“The highlights from Dame Kelly’s talk included her view that having just one person behind you telling you “you can do it” is enough to help you achieve anything. She really believes that everyone has a hidden gem and that in order to reach your full potential you need to have guides to support you along the way, but ultimately be a true believer in yourself. At M&S we place a lot of emphasis on personal development and enhancing opportunities. Just like Dame Kelly, we too recognise the importance of having the necessary support to do this and are therefore proud to run various mentoring and development programmes across our Business.  

“Dame Kelly lived by the mantra, “what if I”, rather than “if only I”, making sure she felt like she had given life everything. Dame Kelly explained that she believed in fate and trusted that what was meant to be will be. She explained that she has taken the difficulties life has thrown at her, and turned these into positives.  

“The part of Kelly’s talk that resonated the most with me personally was her view that however big or small your goal is, you need to have determination, motivation and inspiration to achieve it, but most importantly, self-belief. Dame Kelly was an inspirational role model as an athlete, and continues to be in her role running The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. The Trust supports athletes as they transition from sport and use their unique skills to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people through the trust’s mentoring programmes.  

“In 2004 M&S set a clear goal to help disadvantaged people into work through our Marks & Start employability programme. We are extremely proud of this milestone, with Marks & Start having supported over 10,000 people in 10 years through training and work experience in our stores and offices. We are particularly proud of our youth employment programme, Make Your Mark, which supports disadvantaged young people to overcome barriers to get into work. We are exploring ways to work together with The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust to support more disadvantaged young people.  

“I launched the first women’s network at M&S with the support of our Chairman Robert Swannell last year, to give my colleagues access to a range of female role models from both inside and outside the organisation. The main aim was to focus on the career challenges women face and create a forum for discussion to explore and address these.”


Inside M&S
16 July, 2015

National Chef of the Year Finals

We are delighted to announce that Luciano Lucioli, our Hospitality Head Chef, has made it through to the finals for the National Chef of the Year 2015.

The chefs were challenged to create an innovative menu for four people, focusing on technical skills, seasonality and sustainably sourced ingredients.

Competition was fierce and Luciano was competing against chefs from some of the top UK restaurants and institutions, including the chef from the House of Commons and the Sous Chef of Gordon Ramsey Holdings.

As well as competing in the National Chef of the Year final, Luciano will also attend a Mentor Day at the Knorr Kitchen in Leatherhead on September 15th where all competing chefs will be presented with a mystery basket of ingredients to be used in the final and given the opportunity to ask questions about the brief.

Winning National Chef of the Year has helped establish the careers of chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, David Everitt-Matthias, Mark Sargeant, Steve Love, Simon Hulstone, Hrishikesh Desai and last year's winner Russell Bateman. The finals are being held in October – watch this space.


Inside M&S
3 July, 2015

Marks, Make Up & Starts

Full time work as a consultant in the beauty section at Marks and Spencer in Swansea has given mum-of-one Sarah Bond her confidence back.

But the 30-year-old had to travel a rocky road first, which saw her and daughter Casey homeless.

Sarah Bond, of West Cross, received disappointing GCSE results and enrolled on a child care course in college.

Sarah then worked in the child care sector full-time for three years. However, when nine-year-old Casey was six months old, Sarah was made redundant.

This led to her claiming unemployment benefits and going back to school. After struggling to keep afloat, she found herself without a home and was forced to move back in with her parents.

"After being made redundant I had no choice but to become a full-time mum and began claiming benefits as I was out of work with a very young child," she says. "I decided to go back to school to study social work but found that I couldn't manage studying and caring for Casey and it started to go downhill from there.

"My confidence completely plummeted and I felt extremely lonely and isolated, but I was determined to get back into work."

Sarah visited Jobcentre Plus Swansea regularly and came across the Marks & Start scheme. She signed up and undertook a two-week placement in the M&S Swansea store. This resulted in a six-month contract in the lingerie department and the team were so impressed they offered Sarah a permanent role.

Two years later and Sarah has not looked back. Working in store has given her the opportunity to progress and she recently completed training to become a fully-fledged consultant in the beauty hall.

Her beauty advisor role involves giving out advice to customers on the store's range of beauty products, which includes skin care, make-up and hair products. Also, giving make up and nail trials as well as replenishing stock and maintaining sales floor standards.

"The stability of working at M&S has turned my life around," Sarah adds. "I now have a home for Casey and I to enjoy and I'm financially independent, which has had such an amazing effect on my confidence. I can't wait for the next chapter."

Sarah was 21 when she was made redundant and was a full-time mum for five years. She was made homeless and moved back with her parents four years ago. Two years later she was able to rent her own home.

M&S is to double the participation in its Marks & Start scheme. The programme is designed to help individuals with disabilities, health conditions, the young unemployed, lone parents and those tackling homelessness to gain vital employability skills. It pledges to provide work placement opportunities to 10,000 individuals who face significant barriers to employment by 2020.

The scheme has supported more than 10,000 individuals since its first intake in the 2004-05 financial year.

It works in partnership with four leading specialist partners. These include Remploy for people with disabilities; Gingerbread for lone parents; The Prince's Trust which helps young people aged 16 to 25; and Business in the Community for the homeless or those at risk of homelessness.

More than 60 per cent of participants that complete the programme gain employment with M&S or another employer within 13 weeks and over 90 per cent report that Marks & Start has improved their confidence and helped them in their steps to find work, according to the scheme.

Around 35 per cent of participants have some sort of disability and currently an average of 60 per cent of participants are aged 16-25.

This article originally appeared on South Wales Evening Post 

Inside M&S


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