Company profile

Marks and Spencer

More information about Marks and Spencer can be found on the company's website.

The information we hold on Marks and Spencer was last updated on 14 March 2017.

« See all companies

« Compare companies

1. Ethical code?  -  yes

Marks and Spencer’s Global Sourcing Principles can be found on the company’s website.  Marks and Spencer are also a member of the UK's Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI).  The ETI is an alliance of 'companies trade unions and voluntary organisations'.  It seeks to 'improve the lives of workers across the globe who make or grow consumer goods' (ETI website).  Marks and Spencer’s Global Sourcing Principles note: 

‘We have adopted the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) base code as our international standard, and expect our suppliers to work to this.’ 

The ETI base code, which includes a commitment to pay living wages, can also be found on Marks and Spencer’s website.

2. Living wages?  -  no

Marks and Spencer’s Plan A Report 2015 notes that the company had a commitment to:

‘Implement a process to ensure our clothing suppliers are able to pay workers a fair living wage in the least developed countries we source from, starting with Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka by 2015. We will achieve this by ensuring that the cost prices we pay to our suppliers are adequate to pay a fair living wage’ (p.31).

The report claims that this was achieved, but also notes that ‘this didn’t automatically result in factories paying a fair living wage, so we’re involved in a number of collaborative programmes to address this issue’ (p.36).   However, a recent report by NGO, Labour Behind the Label, called into question whether even the progress Marks and Spencer did report was achieved.  The study found evidence of poor conditions for workers in all three of the countries concerned and questioned why Marks and Spencer was not willing to share the data it uses to calculate wage levels and therefore payments to suppliers (Do we buy it? A supply chain investigation into living wage commitments from M&S and H&M, 2016). 

Marks and Spencer’s Plan A Report 2015 now includes a new aim:

‘To work collaboratively with other companies, organisations, suppliers and governments to support the payment of a fair wage to the workers in our supply chain’ (p.32).

However, no information is provided as to how and when this will be achieved.  Marks and Spencer says only: 

‘This is a new commitment and we’ll report on our progress in next year’s Report’.

3. Factory address list?  -  yes

Information on Marks and Spencer’s supplier factories can be found on the company’s website

4. Thorough factory checks?  -  yes

Marks and Spencer’s website reports: 

‘We use the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex) system to monitor our suppliers’ progress towards our requirements. All product suppliers are required to be registered on Sedex...  Sedex registered suppliers are required to have up-to-date assessments on the platform and audits are carried out according to the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) best practice guidance

‘Our Regional Compliance Managers in Turkey, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and China support our local buying offices to monitor social compliance and encourage good practice. Sites are audited by independent specialist third parties at a frequency determined by risk. For the majority of suppliers this is on an annual basis. In addition, M&S personnel will be visiting each site on a regular basis’. 

SEDEX is ‘a not for profit membership organisation dedicated to driving improvements in ethical and responsible business practices in global supply chains’ (SEDEX website).  SEDEX’s best practice guidance contains detailed requirements on worker interviews including on independently selecting interviewees and maintaining confidentiality (p.39-44). 

Marks and Spencer also confirmed that unannounced factory checks are routinely carried out in an email dated 17 March 2014.  They also told us in an email dated 20 September 2011: 

‘Our Regional Compliance managers visit each site on average up to 4 times per year in between audits  - a mixture of announced and unannounced visits. All 3rd party auditors’ visits and audits are semi announced (within a 3 week window).’

5. Factory check results published?  -  no

Marks and Spencer told us in an email dated 17 March 2014: 

‘We do not publish audit results.’

6. Worker complaint procedure?  -  making progress

Marks and Spencer told us in an email dated 17 March 2014: 

‘We are now using Labor Link in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh. Labor Link is a technology that returns anonymous, quantitative survey results to M&S direct from supply chain workers. Workers listen to questions on their mobile phones in Hindi, Sinhalese, or another local language, and respond using their touch-tone keypad.’  

More information about Labor Link can be found on the company’s website.

7. Checks on suppliers of suppliers?  -  making progress

Marks and Spencer does not directly conduct checks on its supply chain.  However, the company’s Global Sourcing Principles describe the requirements it has placed upon its suppliers to monitor their own suppliers. 

‘It is our supplier’s responsibility to enforce these standards with their own supply chain. As part of their supply chain risk assessment they must be aware of more vulnerable groups like women, smallholders and homeworkers, and subcontracting and have adequate monitoring in place to ensure the rights of these groups are upheld’ (p.10).

8. Reuse or recycle scheme?  -  yes

Marks and Spencer has partnered with charity, Oxfam, on a scheme known as ‘shwopping’.  This allows unwanted clothes to be donated in Marks and Spencer stores for resale or recycling. 

9. Sustainable cotton?  -  making progress

Marks and Spencer’s website reports:

‘As part of our Plan A 2020 commitments we’ve got a target to source 70% of our cotton from sustainable sources by 2020, and we’re making good progress with over a third of our cotton coming from the following sources’.

10. Eliminating toxic chemicals?  -  yes

Marks and Spencer’s website reports that the company has signed up to the charity Greenpeace’s Detox 2020 campaign.  As part of their agreement with Greenpeace, Marks and Spencer has committed to: 

‘zero discharge of hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle associated with the production and use of its textiles and apparel products across all pathways of release (discharges, emissions and losses) in our supply chains by 1 January 2020’.

« Show all indicators