A Career Highlight: Sponsoring Britain’s Got Talent
M&S Food is sponsoring one of the nation’s best-loved television programmes in 2019 – ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. And the man who’s primed to lead the project never guessed he’d be in this position.
When Britain’s Got Talent first aired in 2007, Rhys Cook was working in our London stores as a Commercial Manager. But, as his career journey highlights, it’s not unusual for talent in our food stores to find fame in our head office.
What may seem like temporary work experience can actually transform your career. A fact Rhys took full advantage of: “Through the high profile of the Oxford Circus branch, I got to work more closely with head office colleagues and asked to spend a couple of weeks covering the holiday of a colleague in the Food Presentation Team.”
Even if your first ever job at M&S is in a store on the South Coast of Wales - like Rhys’s first role in Swansea - with enough ambition and the right ideas, you can carve out a role for yourself in our head office: “When I joined the business, I knew I wanted to work in the London office at some point in my career. In those days, the food marketing structure was very different, so there was no role to aspire to like the one I’m doing now.”
After joining the head office team and running several big in-store marketing campaigns, Rhys became walking proof that M&S reward excellent work with greater responsibility. Namely, managing our first ever headline TV sponsorship deal.
With an audience of over 11 million viewers last year, the Britain’s Got Talent responsibility would have been a step up for anyone. We believe in supporting our teams rather than micro-managing them, which gave Rhys the autonomy he needed: “I manage all different areas of the project, from producing the broadcast creative and aligning the in-store journey, to agreeing the social media strategy and keeping in contact with the Britain’s Got Talent production teams, our media partners and creative agencies.
You may think Rhys was more qualified for the role than anyone, but he’ll tell you that we prefer people who are passionate above all else: “M&S is particularly good at supporting those individuals who want to develop and move on to do so. In my case, I was trusted to come into the office from stores with no prior marketing experience. However, the business recognized that I could bring other skills to the team, including retailing and understanding our customers.”
So what’s the lesson to be learned from Rhys’ story? Have the right attitude and game-changing opportunities will come your way, an outcome he believes has never been more true: “We are going through the biggest transformation in our history. If, as I do, you thrive on change, then this is the best time to be in the business.”
Best of luck to Rhys during this exciting new chapter in his career. What’s your next step?Inside M&S
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Taking real action on the plastic problem
By 2050 there could be more plastic in the sea than fish. It’s a scary thought that puts the scale of the issue in context. The days of carefree convenience are over. Now we’re setting our minds to create viable alternatives.
Take single-use plastics. We’ve now replaced the 2 million straws used in our stores each year to paper ones and 99% of the 52 million hot drinks we sell annually are served in reusable china.
It’s a similar story with carrier bags. We were one of the first retailers to charge for plastic bags. This initiative has seen customer use drop by 80% since 2008. That’s 4 billion bags! But this kind of everyday action is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a big issue and our thinking needs to be equal to it.
In every way possible, we’re designing plastic out of our products and will ensure that all our packaging is widely recyclable by 2022. This means we’re using less in packaging and ensuring what is used can be recycled or reused. We’ve saved 75 tonnes from our crisp and popcorn packaging alone, just by thinking smarter. Cashmere is a luxury. But we think our environment is more precious. So we’ve removed the protective covers from the half million we sell so we can all feel the benefit.
It’s by investing more and thinking harder that these savings have been possible. We’ve taken some big strides on our journey. But there’s much more to do and further to go. Watch this space.Inside M&S
Getting Tough on Plastic in Every Possible Way
Reducing our own use of plastic, replacing it with planet friendly alternatives and designing it out of our products is just the start of the story. Our Plastic Take-Back scheme builds on our customers’ good will to do the right thing and gives their efforts a helping hand.
The initiative is supported by our Food Managing Director, Stuart Machin. Initially launched in eight of our stores, it helps customers return plastic they currently can’t recycle at home. Customers can bring back everything from crisp packets, films and sachets, to pouches, bread bags and black rigid trays. Plans are in place to see the scheme go nationwide by the end of the year.
We’re also working with the waste education social enterprise, Wastebuster, to win the battle of hearts and minds in schools. This sees us teach children about the importance of recycling and reducing plastic waste. What better way to inspire children to make a positive difference in their homes and communities?
Laura Fernandez is our Senior Packaging Technologist at M&S. As such, she’s heavily invested in the scheme and takes up the story:
‘It had to be a truly circular project. The plastic waste collected will be given a new life by melting it down to create flat boards made of 100% recycled plastic. These will be used to manufacture more bins to extend the project to further stores, as well as shop fittings, furniture and playground equipment for schools.
‘Customers often don’t know how best to recycle certain types of plastic or where it goes after being collected by local councils. We’re on a mission to provide a greater awareness of landfill avoidance and plastic recyclability while, ultimately, helping our customers to give plastic a new purpose and support a truly circular economy.’Inside M&S
Retail Management Apprenticeship For School Leavers
We’re no strangers to innovation at M&S. As part of our ongoing drive to put digital first, we’ve invested in Founders Factory as a UK and European retail partner. Founders Factory is the brainchild of Lastminute.com founder, Brent Hoberman, and Henry Lane Fox.
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WHAT WE LOOK FOR
- At least 4 GCSEs at grade 4/C or above including Maths, English and Science or equivalent (expected or gained).
- A passion for working with your hands, solving problems and getting to grips with the latest high-tech mechatronic, electrical, mechanical and fluid power equipment.
- Ability to take on a role that requires outstanding attention to detail and work well as part of a team.
- Patience and a willingness to work and study hard to progress on one of the most forward-looking apprenticeship schemes around.
- £18kStarting salary
- 28 days Holiday
- 20% Store discount
- Free uniform and safety wear
Further Discounts On:
- Gym membership
- Cinema tickets
Before joining M&S, Rob was working and enjoyed fixing equipment but wasn’t sure about his next careers steps as he thought you needed to attend university to have a career in Engineering. After looking at opportunities he found out that this wasn’t the case at all, and applied for the M&S apprenticeship programme. Now, he has the opportunity to learn and develop his engineering skills whilst being paid and carving out a career path for himself.
During school, Brandon attended a mini course on Engineering and this sparked his interest in this area – he enjoyed the balance between theory and practical application, being hands on with a range of equipment, so wanted to join the M&S apprenticeship programme as he felt a college course didn’t provide the same learning opportunities. He’s learnt loads about motors, electricity, pneumatics and welding, even feeling confident to use some of his new found skills to fix his own car.
Josh always knew he wanted to be an Engineer. At college he studied Engineering for 2 years and found out about the M&S apprenticeship scheme when he saw a flyer for it. He was attracted to this programme as he would be working for M&S but he also receives training at the Toyota Academy – what could be better! 18 months on and the programme is delivering for Josh and he can’t wait to move into the second part at M&S Castle Donington.
At school, Adam studied Engineering as one of his GCSEs and believed that a practical style of work would be better suited to him. His dad and grandad had worked in engineering, and he decided he wanted to follow in their footsteps. Being local to Toyota he attended the open evening and discovered M&S were offering opportunities. The M&S brand attracted him and when he left school at 16 he joined their apprenticeship programme, and started his engineering career.
Shawn started his apprenticeship in 1985, following in his dad’s footsteps at a local engineering firm, he learnt his engineering trade but he was also taught a great work ethic and attitude from the older, wiser engineers who were his mentors. Whilst time has moved on and there have been advancements in technology and automation Shawn believes apprenticeships are key to developing engineering skills for now and in the future, but in his role as Engineering Training Manager enables him to give something back to the M&S apprentices by coaching, supporting and mentoring them to be successful.
History Of The Scheme
It’s amazing that our relationship with school leavers spans over 40 years. So if you’re thinking of joining this scheme, be assured you’ll be making history.Find out more
Your Journey with M&S
Your start date will be 2 September with M&S, and you will commence your apprenticeship programme at the Toyota Academy on 9 September
Part 1 – Months 1-22 at Toyota Academy, Burnaston
Your first 22 months will be spent in the Toyota Academy at Burnaston, where you’ll learn about engineering theory and more practical matters such as: hand tools, welding, machining, robotics, power systems and electronics. Personal development courses will help you to build skills like teamwork and practical problem solving, and there will be a team building activity – meaning a month away. There will be some placement months at Castle Donington and you’ll begin your studies at Burton & South Derbyshire College.
Part 2 – Months 23-44 at Castle Donington
Your second 22 months will be spent at Castle Donington. Here, you’ll build on your experiences at the Academy by moving into a live, hands-on maintenance engineering role, which will give you the opportunity to put your new skills into practice. On a technical level, you’ll learn about things like motors, protection and safety systems, digital electronics and sensing devices. You’ll continue your studies at Burton & South Derbyshire College and benefit from additional personal development courses.
On completion of the programme and achievement of the Level 3 qualification, we anticipate permanent opportunities as a Maintenance Engineer will be available, where your career and development will continue on our Engineering development pathway.
Making Fashion More Sustainable
We all have a responsibility to preserve our planet. And no-one faces up to their responsibilities more than we do. Read about the steps we’ve taken to reduce waste and make our fashion more sustainable.
Environmental and social issues have long swirled around the clothing industry and the throwaway fashion culture. More and more people are questioning how we consume clothing as a society – and rightly so.
Addressing these issues is at the heart of how we do business at M&S. We’ve long taken steps to reduce waste and make our fashion more sustainable. It’s a commitment that’s embedded in Plan A, our detailed sustainability plan which sets bold goals to improve every aspect of our business. Here’s what we’ve done and are continuing to do…
Benchmark for quality
We create fashion that our customers cherish – fashion that will have a second life even when they’ve finished with them. But you can’t put quality of the shelves unless you use the best, sustainably sourced raw materials.
This year will mark a milestone as 100% of our cotton (over 50,000 tonnes) will be produced using significantly less water, pesticides and fertiliser. We’re also assisting Prince Charles’ International Sustainability Unit and Textiles Exchange to build a coalition of 50 companies committed to only using sustainable cotton.
Animal welfare is high on our agenda. We don’t use angora and mohair as we can’t be sure our high expectations on animal welfare can be met. We’re partnering the Leather Working Group to improve industry standards; for wool, we’ve banned the practice of mulesing – the removal of strips of wool-bearing skin from around the breech of a sheep – and are meeting the Responsible Wool Standard.
We’re tackling micro-plastics. Two years ago we spotted the risk that man-made fibres pose in shedding micro-plastics. So we joined the European Outdoor Group’s research efforts to find solutions to this problem. And we also make sure that every piece of wood, used in everything from furniture to packaging and magazines, is sustainably sourced.
Vigilance from manufacturing to retail
Hundreds of thousands of people in hundreds of factories around the world help make our clothing. We know where all these factories are. We publish them on an online transparency map. And we visit and inspect them regularly to make sure they are abiding by our Global Sourcing Principles and upholding workers’ human rights in line with our Modern Slavery Statement.
Dyeing and finishing is integral to beautiful fashion. But the chemicals involved can be highly polluting. Our industry-leading code of practice bans the worst pollutants and controls the use of other materials.
We take recycling seriously. We’ve signed up to WRAP’s Plastic Pact to make our packaging 100% recyclable, and we’re recycling tens of millions of hangers. Our stores make a difference by donating clothing samples and unsold stock to charity. Over 30 million garments have been donated to Oxfam in the last 10 years, raising £21m for people living in extreme poverty.
We’re committed to making sure that every one of our fashion products will have a positive social or environmental story to tell by 2025. It’s our promise to respect the needs of customers, communities and the planet alike.Inside M&S
They Saw the Future!
We ran a competition asking students for ideas on how to change the future of shopping. Meet the worthy winners.
We wanted their vision, inspiration, predictions and ideas on how new trends and technologies will change the way the world shops and how it will impact M&S in the future.
And whether it was offering their thoughts on how fashion will evolve or what we will all be eating, students responded in their droves. Our ‘Future Needs’ competition was a roaring success, with plenty of cutting-edge ideas submitted that were packed with creativity.
We split the competition into five categories: Design, Digital, Food, Retail and Enterprise. Each category had its own individual challenge – and its own winner. Each winner won a trip to London, an invitation to a film shoot and £500 spending money. They also spent time with M&S leaders and received a LinkedIn recommendation. For those who came a close second, we offered a little something for their contribution.
There were so many great entries, it was a tough call to select the winners. But drumroll, please, for…
Caitlin sees a future where clothing is grown in a lab, not sewn in a factory! The idea was a shift-shaping maternity jacket designed to adapt to the growth of pregnant women. The jacket would include smart fabrics which incorporate living bacteria into a synthetic fabric, creating a sustainable material that responds to body moisture and growth.
Paulina believes online shopping in the future will be a virtual reality system based on voice recordings and interactions between AI-based systems and customers. The idea, including a virtual assistant, is an AI-embedded system, with a virtual fitting room and pictures of models and clothes that change in relation to customer size.
Wenhau noticed that customers prefer to eat healthier foods even at higher prices. His idea was to add raw food materials with medical values into our current product lines to improve the digestive tract and give customers guides on comparing the alternatives. For example, adding mint for health-conscious eaters who love mayo.
Sushmita recognised that people spend countless hours trying to take pictures in trial rooms to send to friends and elicit opinions. So she came up with an app-based Voice Assistant who is a personal stylist. When the customer holds up a camera, the assistant will run algorithms to match the item against the customer’s body type, complexion and shopping need, and suggest a rating.
Amy had an innovative idea to target the student market of 2030. In her experience, there’s competition among students to have the best matching sets whether that’s clothing or kitchenware. The idea was M&S Match. Students search on the M&S Match app to select colours, patterns and style. M&S Match comes up with the products that meet this criteria, adding them to an online mood board.
Congratulations to all five winners!
And don’t forget that we will be running more competitions this year. Watch this space!Inside M&S
Sourcing food products sustainably, keeping forests standing
It’s our purpose at M&S to meet every customer’s need. We do our best to exceed their expectations and introduce them to new products and experiences too. But this drive to create special moments goes beyond the items they’ll find in our stores. It extends to how we source them too. As a responsible retailer, our customers can buy from us safe in the knowledge that, when they do so, the planet has not paid the price.
It’s a massively complex undertaking. Every action we take has a consequence. Running our business ethically means being mindful of them. We call this Plan A.
Take our supply chain for instance. We’ve analysed it at every stage to see where we can take action to reduce harm. At its most basic level, this has meant engaging with the suppliers of our raw materials to ensure they are responsibly sourced. When we take from nature, we aim to do as sustainably as possible. This covers all manner of environments, with a range of challenging targets.
We’ve set ourselves a target to achieve zero deforestation, and so how we source palm oil is key. 100% of our supply is RSPO (Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil) certified. In the UK, we also play an active role in holding palm oil importers to account through the Palm Oil Traceability Coalition.
We’re looking ahead too. In partnership with Forum for the Future, we’re taking the lead on research into how the wider fats and oils sector source these materials, so that we fully understand any impact.
By 2020, it’s our goal to ensure that our use of palm oil, soy, cattle, wood, and wood’s derivative materials, means zero deforestation. It’s an ambitious target but one that we’re determined to achieve.
Find out more about Plan A on Inside M&S.Inside M&S
Creating a Product Sensation: The Love Sausage
Take a sausage. Wrap it in bacon. Season with truffle. Serve with a digital-first mindset, and create a new product sensation. This is how the digital transformation of our business is reaching beyond online to make a real-world impact.
Digital is not just about offering improved convenience for our customers, or a shop that’s open all hours. It’s ingrained in our mindset. The possibilities it gives us to redefine and reposition M&S are virtually endless.
The latest example of how it touches our business is in how we turned our new Love Sausage product into a sizzling, soar-away success, just in time for Valentine’s Day. This is how our Press Officer, Harry Seymour, saw to it.
“Between PR and social, we decided to reveal the product on social media first to start conversations with customers and fuel excitement for Love Sausage. We knew our tweet - Are you ready for our love sausage? – would shock our followers, so after the tweet was posted, we immediately issued our press release. This had a bit more detail like cooking instructions, and a quote from our product developer, Sarah, to give the product a bit more character and more of a news-hook for the press to go after.
“We surprised the press by making M&S appear younger and more relevant. It definitely helped to get press wanting to write about us more.”
We must give our customers a mention here too. They were a big part of why the press picked up the story and ran with it so positively. That’s the power of conversation, and the impact of putting digital-first.Inside M&S
In these competitive times, no retailer can afford to stand still, and M&S is transforming to stay ahead of the curve. Digital is at the heart of this transformation and we’ve made significant steps forward to become a digital-first retailer, with pioneering initiatives like our new Honeywell product search app, ‘Try Tuesday’ styling, and even ‘shoppable’ posts on Instagram.
M&S has been collaborating with Decoded to create the world’s first Data Academy in retail – and to say that we’re ‘excited’ about this partnership and what it can achieve would be the understatement of the year!
The M&S Data Academy is digitally upskilling 1,000 of our colleagues. Our aim is to take people from every function of the business and at different levels – store managers and visual merchandisers to finance professionals and buyers – and create a new raft of data-skilled leaders to lead digital change across the business and help us leapfrog the competition.
“We don’t do things by half measures at M&S. When we commit to take something on, that commitment is total... So, if you join us in the near future, you can expect to be part of some big changes in the shape of industry-leading initiatives.” said Tim Piper, M&S Leadership, Development and Culture Manager.
As part of the M&S Data Academy, colleagues can enrol for The Data Fellowship, an 18 month in-work data science skills programme funded by the Apprenticeship Levy. It’s a great opportunity to learn to harness the most cutting-edge data analytics tools such as “R” and “Python” and adopt technologies such as machine learning. Colleagues finish the programme with a Data Analytics qualification accredited by the British Computing Society.
Be a digital transformer. Unlock the wealth of data at M&S to leave other retailers trailing in our wake. And open your mind to the sheer possibilities it offers for your career.Inside M&S
An M&S Apprenticeship opens all kinds of doors
Matthew Meek is an M&S Apprentice Data Analyst. Nothing too unusual about that. But how many Data Analysts can say they have developed a cake that will be sold in M&S Cafés up and down the country in Autumn 2019? We only know of one. This is Matt’s story.
“It was the brand that drew me here. M&S occupies a unique place in retail and in the hearts and minds of the British public. Not just British actually, now we’re a truly international brand. I joined the business in my apprentice role straight from school after finishing my A-levels. I’d also been working at a high-street mobile phone store, so retail wasn’t completely new to me.
“I knew I’d be in good hands here and M&S has certainly more than lived up to its reputation for doing things with a great deal of thought and care. It’s possibly the best decision I’ve ever made. Working here has surpassed my expectations. I was treated as a fully-fledged member of the team from the word go. Any idea that apprentices are somehow less than anyone else is certainly not true here. I’ve been given useful opportunities to develop and the whole experience has been great. There’s been an emphasis on college coming before work too, as classroom learning is a big part of the apprentice offer.
“As a result, I’m personally hugely pleased with how I’m developing. Currently, I work in Supply Chain and Logistics within the A&R (Allocation and Replenishment) Central Team. Being an apprentice means much of my time is spent learning how to perform the role. This also involves attending college as I’m working towards a Level 4 Data Analysis qualification as part of the scheme. I’m covering a lot of ground on the job too: raising stock orders with suppliers; being an Agile Scrum Master for my team - which involves a lot of project and people management; plus, I perform in-depth routine and ad-hoc analysis for key business stakeholders.
“Obviously it was a bit of a shock to the system going from a medium-sized school to an office containing thousands of people. However, M&S made sure the transition was as smooth as possible. When I started, a plan was set out of what to expect over the course of the programme and who my direct lines of support were. My line manager and others are all incredibly supportive of the programme as a whole and have really helped bed it in.”
So, the question on everyone’s lips is: where does the cake fit in?
“The simple answer is my cake was judged to be the best entry in the Cake Off we held to celebrate the Macmillan Coffee Morning. I’d never baked anything before either. I was gobsmacked. My prize for winning is to have my cake sold at M&S Cafés for a month around the same time next year.
“It’s exciting and feels great. It’s weird to think that soon I’ll be able to go into a store and see something I created, I don’t think it will fully sink in until I actually see it in store. I think it’s amazing that each purchase contributes to such an amazing cause, hopefully it helps to raise a huge amount of money!
“It just goes to show that anything is possible here. The working culture is driven yet still manages to be relaxed when it needs to be. I feel the perfect work-life has been achieved here; people are passionate about delivering results; the business is passionate that this shouldn’t come at the cost of a fully rounded life outside work.”Inside M&S