Thursday, March 22, 2007

Good old M&S will help us save the planet

Sainsburys was once the leading supermarket chain in the UK. Then Tesco rose up with their vision statement of “putting Sainsburys out of business”. No longer content to be number two, Tesco summed up their ambition in a single, simple statement.

As well as being a vision statement (until they overtook Sainsburys and reverted to something more customer-centric), it could have been described as their BHAG. Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Something that wasn’t obviously achievable, but drove the culture and behaviour of the organisation to succeed.

Sainsburys are trying to make a comeback. Recent announcements suggest they’re betting that in the long run consumers will demand eco-friendly stores, produce, and fair trade credentials. So they’re investing in greening-up Sainsburys’ supply chains, something that will take a year or two to put in place, but something they feel will help them become the number one choice again for the UK public.

M&S have joined in the race too. They’re not in the same volume market as Sainsburys and Tesco, but they’ve been strengthening their brand image with moves into fair trade cotton clothes, switching to only selling fair trade tea, and now with today’s Plan A announcement. It’s their new BHAG.

Plan A

Because there is no Plan B.

  • Climate Change (going carbon neutral, using renewable energy, and only using offsetting as a last resort)
  • Waste (reducing landfill, packaging and carrier bags)
  • Sustainable Raw Materials (protecting the environment and world’s natural resources for future generations)
  • Fair Partner (improving the lives of people in our worldwide supply chain and local communities)
  • Health (healthy eating ranges, healthier lifestyles for employees and customers)

Admirable. And as well as being suitable for big business, these five commitments sound pretty reasonable personal goals for responsible individuals to take on.

Only problem with the M&S BHAG is that the double spread adverts they ran in yesterday Monday morning’s papers are printed on a background of black, meaning that there will now be a world shortage of black ink! I wonder if anyone can work out a way of recycling the stuff that rubbed off onto my fingers ...

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