How our business operates
Over the last 129 years M&S has grown from a single market stall to become an international multi-channel retailer. We now operate in over 50 territories worldwide and employ almost 82,000 people. Remaining true to our founding values of Quality, Value, Service, Innovation and Trust, we work hard to ensure our offer continues to be relevant to our customers. Through diversifying our store locations, channels and product ranges we are reducing our dependence on the UK and broadening our international focus.
Customers are at the heart of our business and through our Customer Insight Unit, we ensure their needs inform every aspect of our decisionmaking. Through a combination of customer feedback, focus groups and consumer research we are in touch with over 17,000 customers every month, helping us anticipate their needs.
What we offer
Our heritage of innovation helps us lead the way with first-to-market products across food, fashion and homeware. We are the UK's leading clothing retailer and offer high-quality food, with a focus on freshness, convenience and speciality. Our own-brand model sets us apart and we further differentiate our offer through exclusive collaborations.
Reaching our customers
Our products are sold through 766 UK and 418 international stores – in diverse locations across high streets and out of town retail parks. Our Simply Food franchise partnerships ensure we are in the most convenient locations – from railway stations to motorway services. As shopping habits change, we're combining the best of web and store to extend our reach and drive more spend from customers. In-store technologies help customers shop more of our catalogue and our newly-created app enables browsing and buying for shoppers on the move – making M&S available 24/7.
Investing in our people
We communicate with our people throughout the year via a range of channels and measure employee engagement quarterly. All our training and support activities are closely linked to our business plans; from improving employee skills and product knowledge to the development of future leaders for M&S.
Innovative ways of working
Ongoing improvements to our operations are making us more efficient. Our restructured supply chain has improved our stock management and availability and our e-commerce distribution centre and new IT platform will strengthen our ability to deliver growth. The creation of a long-term sustainable business model for M&S through Plan A lies at the heart of the way we work.
Effective risk management is essential to the achievement of our strategic objectives – and a key consideration in our Board's deliberations. In evaluating risk, we consider external competitor and economic factors, our core day-to-day operations, business change activity and potential future risks. Mitigating activities to address these are detailed in the Accountability section of this report.