Comments on Marks & Spencer's Supermarket Trolleys

Letter to Marks & Spencer

Mr Stuart Rose
Chief Executive
Marks and Spencer Group plc
Waterside House
35 North Wharf Road
London
W2 1NW
14 March 2007

Dear Mr Rose

Abandoned Marks & Spencer's Trolleys in Bishop's Stortford

I am writing to you on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation (BSCF) regarding the growing problem of abandoned Marks & Spencer's trolleys in our town.

East Herts Council has recently launched an initiative to clean up Bishop's Stortford by actively discouraging the dropping of litter in the town; we at the BSCF feel very strongly that Marks & Spencer can also take a strong lead here by introducing measures to discourage the littering of our town with its trolleys.

Your current policy on this matter appears to be that members of the public have to contact your store if they wish your abandoned trolleys to be removed from our streets. This is quite unacceptable to us for a number of reasons:

1) Abandoned supermarket trolleys are an objectionable eyesore and do nothing to assist the council in its anti-litter campaign.

2) Why should the public have to waste time contacting you when you could take the initiative and to a great extent prevent the problem happening in the first place?

3) Your trolleys are frequently abandoned where your customers leave them - at car parks and in the streets far from the store. If no one contacts you, they are often not collected and can remain as litter for days or weeks.

4) I know that your staff waste a lot of time rounding up trolleys from a wide area surrounding your stores. They are also expected to arrange for trolleys to be fished out of the river Stort where they can sometimes end up. We have also been told that your trolleys are sometimes used by children for "chariot races" and get abandoned wherever the race happens to end.

Having discussed this problem with some of your staff members and concerned citizens of the town, we at the BSCF strongly believe that the best solution to this problem is for you to replace your current trolley fleet with coin in the slot trolleys at your Bishop's Stortford store.

I have been told that you have not been prepared to introduce coin-in-the slot trolleys unless other supermarkets in the town also do the same. If that is the case, then it seems a petty policy which completely ignores the wishes of citizens' groups in the town and does nothing to help reduce the litter generated by your company. I am also writing to Sainsbury's - the other supermarket whose trolleys regularly litter our town - in the hope that you both will at last start to take this problem seriously.

The negative publicity that this litter nuisance is engendering locally is not good for Marks & Spencer. Given that there will be major changes in the commercial landscape of the town with the opening of the Jackson Square development in May of this year, now seems an ideal opportunity for you to address this problem in a proactive and sensible way. Your staff at the local branch seem to be strongly in favour of finding a solution to this matter; currently they have to spend considerable time and effort collecting abandoned trolleys from far and wide. This cannot be an efficient use of your resources.

Your website states that you have a strong tradition of Corporate Social Responsibility. I urge you to practise what you preach by taking steps now to address this problem.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely

Jeremy Morton

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