Best Practice Case Studies: Marks & Spencer

M & S logoMarks & Spencer run an employability programme called Marks & Start to support people who face barriers to employment. This runs in partnership with a number of charities and agencies including Remploy. Starting in 2004 it has grown to provide support to over 800 people a year. Each candidate receives support through three stages – pre-placement, the placement (2 to 4 weeks) and post-placement.  Around 40% of people who complete their placement go on to gain a job in Marks & Spencer or another employer within 13 weeks and 90% of participants said the Marks & Start programme had helped improve their confidence and helped them on their way to employment.

Here are some success stories:

Louise Parkin, from Sheffield, is now working as a Customer Assistant in a new M & S Simply Food store – a job she had previously thought was beyond her reach. A history of OCD had robbed her of her confidence. She worked with Remploy on employability skills such as CV writing and interview techniques, and that all-important confidence-building. M & S Manager, Hedley Corney, said that they saw the potential in Louise straight away and offered her a position immediately after placement and states, “It was clearly the right decision, as Louise is now demonstrating every day.”

Louise is thrilled, and says, “The benefits of self-reliance and independence because I have a job are just tremendous. I can now plan for the future because I now have a future.”

Ben Hastie, aged 21, who experienced symptoms from Cerebral Palsy, including weakness in his left hand, had been in an unpaid internship but now needed support to find employment. Remploy worked with Ben before the placement on employability skills and interview preparation. On completion of the placement, Ben was offered a part time position and is still really enjoying it. His favourite aspect of the job is working in a team and interacting with the public. Emma Lowe, the Assistant Store manager says Ben is a lovely employee, his confidence has really grown whilst he has been with us.  He has overcome some physical barriers since he’s been with us and is a real asset to M&S.  He’s a fantastic team member and has a lovely approach to customers.”

Ben is keen to continue with his studies and has his eye on the Graduate Trainee opportunities within M&S.

Ben and Ken
Ben and Ken

Ken McCormac , aged 58, had previously retired from the civil service through ill health. As his health began to improve he applied for the Mark & Start programme. He had been out of work for a while, and lacked confidence. Remploy worked with Ken, helping him with CV writing and interview skills and giving him knowledge about the company and what would be expected. He enjoyed his placement, saying that M & S made him feel welcome and a valued member of the team, and so he was delighted when they offered him a part time role which he is still enjoying. Emma Lowe, Assistant Store Manager says, “Ken is a fantastic addition to our team.  He is wonderful with our customers and is always keen to offer support to his colleagues.  He has recently won ‘Employee of the Month’ within our Spotlight Award Scheme.  He’s a real asset to M&S.”

Ken is keen to continue working at M&S and in time increase his hours, and says he feels valued, and again has a purpose in life.


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8 thoughts on “Best Practice Case Studies: Marks & Spencer

  1. We’re all very proud of Louise. Marks and Start is such a fantastic programme and Remploy are very privileged to run the disabled element of the programme. We are seeing such positive results nationwide. In Sheffield alone, Louise was the first of 7 candidates to find work with M&S in the last 4 months, all supported by Remploy’s Sheffield Branch, via Marks and Start and other programmes.


  2. Thank you for commenting Paul. The partnership between Marks & Spencer and Remploy within the Marks & Start programme is clearly producing some really positive results. This is not only changing the lives of the individuals involved, but enabling M & S to access talent it may not otherwise have found.

    A real success story which hopefully other employers may learn from.


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