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22 April 2018
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ThinkFM 2015: An ethical property revolution?

Think FM Munish Datta
Munish Datta of Marks & Spencer (Credit: Peter Livingstone)

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4 June 2015 | FM World team


Munish Datta, Head of Plan A & Facilities Management, Marks & Spencer 

Applying M&S’ sustainability programme, Plan A, to its property estate

9:55am - 10:20AM


It may cause Munish Datta some anxiety, but Marks & Spencer’s plans to ethically audit its entire property supply chain – all tier 1 suppliers will be thus audited by 2020 – won’t be optional.


“We committed to it last year,” he told ThinkFM. “and it’s going to be mandatory.”


The ambitious move is the latest development in the retailer’s renowned Plan A, launched originally in 2007 and now “one of most respected eco-ethical sustainability programmes in the world”.


The reason for Plan A’s importance to M&S? Ninety-eight per cent of its product are sold under the M&S brand name. Thus, explained Datta, “Plan A is both for us and our customers. This 98 per cent exclusivity gives us a great opportunity to embed sustainability through our entire value chain.”


Plan A, said Datta, had required “a wholesale DNA change of our business. Every person in M&S, 86,000 in the UK alone, has Plan A objectives of some form linked to their performance. Twenty per cent of directors’ bonuses are linked to Plan A performance, and energy, water and waste KPIs influence how much store managers earn.”


Of the firm’s 100 commitments under Plan A, 25 sit under property and 15 are directly accountable to M&S’s FM teams. “I can say with great authority that we could not achieve our sustainability commitments if we had not empowered our FM teams at every level,” said Datta.


“Our change agents in our buildings are our facilities managers. They ensure that technology is not overriden by naive colleagues, that our store colleagues segregate waste properly, and that closed-loop recycling systems are developed that are both practical and usable. Our FMs are essential.”


Datta said all elements of the construction supply chain needed to be gauged on a building’s whole-life performance, highlighting the true impact of a building’s design and construction phase – “particularly when what they’ve proved is a built legacy that will last for many years. Because just like an M&S shirt, the buildings we get do not come with a refund policy”.


“The property industry as a whole is not very used to being ethically audited,” he said. “We’re anxious about it, and it may mean we have to stop working with some of our suppliers. But we prefer to go into our negotiations with eyes wide open.” 


Summary

  • It’s time to ensure architects and building designers consider whole life cost, and are judged on how effective they are at that.
  • FMs are critical to the success of Plan A sustainability initiatives.