M&S prepares programme to tackle Christmas food waste

With retail sales suffering due to the Coronavirus pandemic, clothing store Marks & Spencer has announced 7000 job losses in the coming months, as people wearing face masks pass a sign outside their shop in the city centre on 18th August 2020 in London, United Kingdom. M&S will cut the jobs over the next three months both in its stores and also management. (photo by Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images)
In August, M&S announced it would cut jobs over the next three months both in its stores and also management. Photo: Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images

Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) is preparing for Christmas early this year, aiming to avoid mistakes made last yuletide with its supply chains.

In an effort to tackle food waste, the high street stalwart is looking to its supply chain to crack the issue of waste reduction, according to reports by Reuters this morning.

In January, before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the UK, M&S’s chief executive Steve Rowe said that while the company had enjoyed record food sales, profit margins were dented by high levels of waste that are among some of the highest in the industry.

At Christmas, M&S usually sells one in four of all fresh turkeys eaten in the UK, punching above its weight in proportion to the 3% share of the market it holds in grocery shopping.

Rowe hopes initiative, called Vangarde, will be the silver bullet, after years of failed reinventions.

Ryan Lemon, M&S head of retail supply chain told Reuters that it will “reset the foundations of our business and the platform to grow.”

“We believe that we’re going to see an improvement in sales in these stores, a reduction in waste and an improvement in availability,” he said.

The first phase of the programme included 92 M&S stores. On Monday, this will be rolled out to a further 65 stores. It will serve 595 stores by July 2021.

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Back in June, major UK supermarkets signed a pledge to look to halve the country’s annual food waste bill by 2030. It currently stands at 10.2 million tonnes of food and drink, totting up to around £20bn ($15.4bn) a year.

Some 18 tonnes of that waste comes from food manufacture, one million from hospitality. Households hold the blame for around £15bn of that number.

More than 100 businesses pledged to tackle the waste, which costs the average household £500 per year, according to data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) at the time.

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