Steve Mclean, Head of Agriculture, Marks & Spencer 

Could you explain your role in more detail to us?

I lead a team of industry specialists with responsibility for our farming and fisheries sourcing standards at M&S Food. In addition, I head up the Technical Function covering our abattoir and primary processing supplier sites.  Overall my job is ensuring food safety and product integrity so our customers can trust everything they buy at M&S Food.


How do M&S support local producers?

As one of the most trusted brands on the high street, we believe it is essential to be a fair partner. That covers the prices we pay to suppliers and producers of raw materials as well as the support we provide to communities where we trade. It also includes our responsibilities to ensure good working conditions throughout our supply chains and to source our products with integrity.

Our reputation for quality, innovation and sustainability is built on excellent long-term relationships with our suppliers. In Scotland, we work with over 40 suppliers who in turn work in partnership with over 4,500 Scottish Select Farms and producers. Some of those relationships span the six decades. Scottish beef and lamb, salmon, trout, crab, haddock and milk, as well as premium quality fruit and vegetables take pride of place in M&S stores across Scotland and the rest of the UK.


Why do you think it is important to have a wide range of local products available for customers in store?

We are known for quality and innovation – that means listening to customers and anticipating new trends. While we want to ensure people can rely on M&S to stock their favourites, we also always want to continue to bring the magic and that means new products. For instance – we know our Scottish customers are passionate about local products, so we recently introduced products sold only in Scotland such as Beef Olives, Lorne Sausage, Scottish Steak Sausages and a Breakfast Pack. We also stock Scottish family favourite brands like Mackies Ice Cream, Mothers Pride Scottish Plain Loaf, Tunnock’s Tea Cakes and Irn Bru.

Have you received any positive feedback from ensuring you have a wide selection of Scottish products on your shelves?

Yes, we have a very loyal customer base in Scotland and receive lots of feedback, not just on what we’re doing well but also on other choices our customers in Scotland would like to see us offer.


What initiatives do M&S run to support the food farming and rural communities?

We developed our M&S Select Farm ‘Farming for the Future programme’ to help farmers meet our M&S Select Farm Sourcing Standards and address the challenges, identify opportunities for improvement and create a sustainable supply chain that can continue to deliver quality and innovation for the long term. We recognise that we need to work in partnership with our farmers and growers to be their customer of choice and to develop innovative supply chain relationships that secure the high-quality raw materials to continue delivering our customers the quality food offer they expect.

Working in partnership to support vulnerable farming communities is important to us and we continually look at opportunities to provide positive impact in this area.


Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about?

We’re always open to exploring new products and industry innovation. We strive to be different from other retailers so our door is always open to new ideas, new products and improving what we already offer.