M&S raw materials expert Mark Sumner – interview

Mark Sumner, raw materials specialist at M&S


The rising price of cotton has been just one of the ingredients contributing to a cocktail of despair for retailers over the last 12 months, impacting on many fashion companies’ margins or resulting in higher prices for already-stretched consumers.

Value fashion retailer Primark and global high street clothing specialist H&M are among the businesses to have cited the significant hike in cotton costs as a reason for the slower sales growth detailed in recent trading announcements.

Trading has continued to flourish at Marks & Spencer (M&S) though under new CEO Marc Bolland, who said earlier this year that escalating raw material costs have had less of an impact on his business than they have on its market competitors which sell cheaper goods.

M&S is also committed to sourcing sustainable raw materials and yesterday announced that it has extended its ‘Better Cotton’ project in India, which aims to improve the cotton it uses when making its clothing products as well as enhance the lives of farmers working in Warangal, in the Andhra Pradesh of the country.

Having launched phase one of the initiative two years ago, M&S will now continue its work in India until 2015.

Raw materials expert at M&S Mark Sumner, who has been working on the project, told Retail Gazette: “Locally, we are trying to understand the complexity of the cotton industry and cotton agriculture.

“We want to see how we can work with the farmers to deliver a sustainable business model for them and a business model that works for us as well.

“Other retailers and those involved in sourcing cotton have a feel for what it is but until you actually meet the farmers and work with their co-operatives it is really difficult to understand what is going on.”

Cotton sourced from the Warangal project will be used in a wide range of M&S products available later this year across its menswear, ladieswear, childrenswear and homewear ranges, helping the retailer continue to grow its share of the competitive clothing market.

It comes after phase one of the initiative - a joint project with environmental group WWF - focused on decreasing the water and pesticide used in growing cotton, as well as helping 6,000 Indian farmers make more of a profit from their businesses.

Results from the initial two years of the Better Cotton scheme include significant reductions in the use of water, pesticide and synthetic fertiliser in the production of the material, and following this success M&S wants to extend the project to 20,000 farmers in the coming years.

“We have been able to work with the farmers and find a way that allows them to be more effective and efficient in what they are doing and help manage their yield using fewer resources,” Sumner explained.

“It is a really good example of how our eco and ethical improvement campaign Plan A is delivering sustainability but doing so from a business point of view.”

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Comment by N.J.Bond on September 1, 2011 at 10:04
On Organic Cotton Certified by GOTs with Natural Tanning binder ( 0% chemical binder ) Dyed. When it is Organic soap washed it adds to it the natural but business as usual for us. It is a new entity, a Biology of Belief , a bio- sheath with healing power to it .

150 GSM, 30 -Count Organic cotton yarn , Ethnic Indigo method dyed ,( country vatting by pot dyed , there is ceremonies surrounding this process).

Adapted from 2,000 years old till day alive low cot tribal medicine textile system , for cost is at rural while right material made and well made Single Jersey .

Medicinal function to this T-shirt ; DETOX BODY BLOOD WHEN IT GETS INTO TO BILLIONS OF CAPSULES ALONG BREATH. IN YOGA CLASS IT IS HOLDING THE BREATH BEFORE EXHALE IS ONLY WITH THIS HERBAL CAPSULE BATHING INSIDE . It is popular as top for Yoga -Wear. Another important function for it is  it uplifts human Body ,Mind, Intellect and Soul Path . A holistic healer  and protector of  micro 'cosome' , like our Lord Krishna is protector of Macro-'Cosome'  . Its link is evident by Deep blue is symbolic of scavenger in color. Next  it is said to boost the immune system , the reason why the cow boys life was saved from killer bees attack is the nano-Indigo herb capsules are morphine , the killer bees cannot take easy to it. 
Comment by N.J.Bond on September 1, 2011 at 9:33


    Big corporations like M&S naturally will  tend to mass produce and imitate and as they were to compete with market . They just cannot put people first clearly that trust among creative (INNATE) consumers  who are eco-conscious ones will visit them .Do companies  know they are willful ignorant of this  knowledge.


While they meet the structure and organization  driven mass  'one size for all'  they have to cater to times call that  less % chemical dyed is  offered in a segment of the store .

This can  put M&S to unique position in catering to the need along time . Farmers lots  and co-operatives being institutes will suit volumes , Individual and small and medium operations tend more and more  customized  produces givers . This means  some balance need be struck between the small operation and big corporation work together to meet organic natural dyed  demand in the eco conscious circle  of clients and customers . 

If M&S thinks on the line  we have the capacity  to extend  with out compromise  on any , for both quality is quantity  , meeting need of end user is more paying in the long run . In the previous times  it was over head cost , now it can be performed in improved creative way with smart phone and online logistic service . 

The small and big  must adapt to times meed and make better use of communication facilities available now.

Any body can make the organic cotton work out end products  and M&S and we can do  happen to be better than all others it is a step  and better true utilization of scarce sources . It is the right use of capacities of place like India and is traditional gift  with abilities of people .This may be to some extent  inward exploitation of mother nature  a talent already exits need to be seen by mind eye . 


Can M&S.see this , see this in the mind eye . Then we are here to discuss strategies if workable  wounder  is awaiting . This is natures gift of place and people . This is also natures sources, an improved one . All of us an and for the individual and to whole of humanity. Rest all is ending with slogan .    N.J.Bond bond@www.transindiaexports.net


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