May 25th 2016

ShareAction and Craftivist Collective have welcomed Marks & Spencer’s plan to increase staff pay to £8.50 per hour in UK stores and £9.65 per hour in greater London. These hourly rates exceed those set out by the Living Wage Foundation, which are calculated annually according to the cost of living.

Last year ShareAction joined forces with the Craftivist Collective to coordinate a series of “stitch-ins” at branches of Marks & Spencer across the UK, for crafters to sew hand-made messages onto M&S handkerchiefs as bespoke gifts for board members and its largest shareholders, encouraging them to not ‘blow it’ but use their power for good governance and lead the way in the retail sector. These were delivered to the board during the company’s 2015 AGM, during which chairman Robert Swannell praised the action. “This campaign was a test case for how these campaigns should be run,” he said.

ShareAction Chief Executive Catherine Howarth said: “We are very pleased that the board of M&S has decided to step up and increase the rates it pays staff to above the independent Living Wage rates. Working on the M&S campaign, we’ve seen how much people adore the company, and want to see it do the right thing by the people it employs. We hope that the company will demonstrate real leadership in being an employer of choice, and look forward to hearing the results of the staff consultation on today’s proposed changes. We’d like to see M&S take the next step, and formally accredit as a Living Wage employer, ensuring its workforce continues to be paid enough to meet the cost of living. Not only is this the right thing to do – it’s also what many investors want to see.”

Sarah Corbett from the Craftivist Collective said: “We are glad that it looks like Marks and Spencer will be threading their values through their much-loved company by paying their staff a living wage from April 2017. This is a decision that will be life-changing for many workers if implemented fully. We are keen to hear more about these plans at this year’s AGM, which we will be attending to congratulate the CEO and board members in person. We hope this announcement will inspire other companies to treat their staff with dignity and respect.”


Notes to editors:

  • For more information please contact Grace Hetherington at ShareAction: 07746130912 or
  • The Living Wage rates as established by the Living Wage Foundation are £8.25 in the UK, or £9.40 per hour in London. For more information visit:
  • ShareAction has been calling on M&S to pay the Living Wage as part of its campaign to promote the higher rate across the FTSE 100 through shareholder activism and investor engagement. For the past three years ShareAction has been mobilising an Investor Collaborative for the Living Wage made up of asset managers, pension funds, and charity and faith investors, representing £50bn in assets under management. 30 of the FTSE 100 have now accredited. ShareAction has asked questions on the topic at nine AGMs so far this year.
  • These investors recognise the benefits of investing in companies which pay a Living Wage, including increased business performance, reduced staff turnover and enhanced corporate reputations, as well as lifting employees out of working poverty.
  • ShareAction’s briefing for investors on the business case for the Living Wage can be found here:
  • Craftivist Collective is a global organisation bringing together craft and activism as a form of slow, quiet and beautiful activism. This ‘gentle protest’ approach exposes and tackling issues of poverty and injustices through provocative, non-violent creative actions. For further information please contact Sarah Corbett, Founder of Craftivist Collective on 07772 925 523 or