M&S Shop Front, Exeter High Street, 1917

Marks & Spencer launch The Poppy Collection®

Last week, M&S launched the The Poppy Collection® in its top 40 stores nationwide.

This year’s collection, also available online, includes an increased range of over 20 products. M&S is donating all profits from the sale of The Poppy Collection® to The Legion with the aim of raising over £1m this year. The proceeds will go towards the Legion’s Admiral Nurse Service, providing specialist nurses who aim to improve the lives of both people with dementia and their carers. In addition, M&S stores will have Thank You door stickers and mannequins will be wearing poppies.

Like many companies, at the outset of the war, the M&S directors announced a policy of 'business as usual', at a time when few could imagine the duration or scale of the conflict that would continue until 1918. By the end of the war, almost every aspect of the business and its people had seen considerable challenges and changes. 

Enlistment, and later conscription, saw many male employees join the armed services in a wide range of roles. With many head office and store employees away fighting, stores became the responsibility of Staff Manageresses, who'd previously been responsible only for female sales assistants – a new and exciting opportunity that drove forward equality.

Caring for colleagues became a priority during the war, as the business provided financial support and care parcels for serving employees and introduced regular salary reviews and staff catering facilities for those keeping M&S stores, warehouses and offices operational during a time of much uncertainty.

Today, M&S continues to support our uniformed Poppy Appeal collectors and Pop-In centres and colleagues have also been recording their own personal Thank You messages which will be broadcast on M&S’s Instagram on 11th November.

Looking back on the 10-year partnership between M&S and the Legion, Mike Barry, Director, Plan A, notes:

“To date our customers, colleagues and the communities we serve have raised an incredible £6 million for The Royal British Legion. This year, M&S is proud to be part of the Thank You movement, paying respect to the extraordinary generation who lived through the First World War and shaped our world today."

More information about The Poppy Collection® can be found here.