Earlier this year, Marks & Spencer launched its Look Behind the Label advertising campaign, one of the most explicit attempts by a UK retailer to trade on its ethical credentials. The company invited customers to check out its record in fairly traded and GM-free food, sustainably caught fish and animal welfare.
The renewal this Christmas of M&S's five-year partnership with Shelter is also in tune with the socially responsible thrust of the company's corporate strategy.
For the second festive season running, a proportion of the price of M&S's Food to Go products, such as sandwiches, and its Christmas cards will be donated to the homelessness charity. Last year, the same promotion raised £125,000.
A spokeswoman for Shelter said that M&S's "clear sense of social responsibility" was a major factor in the partnership.
"The M&S and Shelter partnership also fits neatly with the retailer's community programme work," she said. "M&S seeks to increase and encourage repeat purchases of its products as well as to differentiate itself in a highly competitive marketplace.
Teaming up with Shelter helps it do that. By working with Shelter, it is also working with an organisation that places as much emphasis on brand management as it does itself."
M&S said it chose the Food to Go range because it wanted to appeal to a particular section of its customers, notably office workers, who are thought to be most sympathetic to the cause of homelessness.
M&S is also working with two other charities. The retailer donates returned clothing and surplus merchandise to BDF Newlife, and is running a campaign with Breakthrough Breast Cancer.