Retailing and Sustainability: An Investigation of Marks & Spencer Plan A
(2015) Retailing and Sustainability: An Investigation of Marks & Spencer Plan A, no. 157.
Sustainability is a concept that has long been on the agenda for organisations but for many decades their environmental, economic and social activities have been separated from their core business plans (Bonini and Gomer 2011). Within the literature sustainability is traditionally characterised as environmental concerns. However, today it now encompasses three dimensions of economic, environmental and social concerns (Jackson 2009). The investigation focused on the contribution of Marks and Spencer to the Triple Bottom Line concept (TBL). The TBL focuses on a company's ability to add environmental and social value to economic value (Sutton 2004). Sustainability is ever important to the retailing sector as it is evident that current levels of consumer consumption are not sustainable in the long run (Newman 2012). Therefore, increasing media attention, governmental reform and campaigns by activist groups have made consumers more aware of the actions of retailers. Consequently, in response retailers have begun including sustainable practices as part of their core business plans. The aim of this research was to investigate, analyse and discuss sustainability in retailing through investigation and appraisal of Marks and Spencer Plan A. This was met firstly, through an extensive literature review focusing on the concept of sustainability and sustainable development in the retailing sector generating secondary research. Secondly, a case study on British retailing icon Marks and Spencer's award winning Plan A initiative was investigated through an analysis of the TBL concept. The researcher finally, conducted primary research in order to generate key stakeholder understanding of the initiative. The research established that yes, Marks and Spencer have put sustainability to the heart of their business plan. However, although M&S are addressing the issue of customer and employee engagement, more still needs to be done in order for them to meet their target of becoming the world's most sustainable retailer.