Marks & Spencer will improve their image and popularity through this change, as people will see them as taking the moral high ground, competitors may be falling behind in these terms, they may decide to join to stop getting left behind. Climate change is also another thing the public are considering increasingly, and how industry is affecting it, although clothes may not be bad for the environment directly, they can affect the environment through the delivery of these clothes; clothes coming on plane from China are going to make more of an effect on the environment than from Yorkshire.
The way Marks & Spencer food may be looked at too, because some ingredients may be sourced unethically, such as some coffee, some coffee beans are picked by slaves, Marks & Spencer may want to distance itself from this type of supplier as it would be against their strategy.
One reason why competitors should not follow Marks & Spencer's lead is that some would argue that climate change is not a huge issue for the clothing industry and they cannot radically change their ways until the transport industry have technological advances, which allow them to transport supplies without leaving as big a footprint on the earth. Recruitment of staff will improve if a business copies Marks & Spencer's stance on ethics, because employees will not feel as though they are part of a huge global corporation, which has a negative effect on its workers and other stakeholders. It would also benefit the business in the long run, despite the initial cost.
Another reason against following the trend of becoming ethical is that it may conflict with shareholder's aims and objectives, they may be out for a short term profit, but Marks & Spencer's plans are definitely long term. In addition, there is no guarantee that if they do become more ethical like Marks & Spencer, the consumer will like the new ethical products, it limit's their choice.
I think that other businesses should follow Marks & Spencer's lead and become more ethical as it would improve the company's image, as they are not exploiting people in third world countries, which has moved it's way into the media spotlight recently, with more people considering how ethical the products have been sourced especially, this means more people would like to buy ethical products, which means this is a new segment of the market, and people who do not offer this may get left with a smaller market to sell to.
It is also important to try to give back to the environment and communities by trading ethically and sensibly, this will help them to stay in touch and not lose ground with the market leader, Marks & Spencer. On the other hand, they cannot do much in terms of climate change, as the technology is not there to reduce the effect, such as carbon emissions from vans, radically; there can only be a small improvement, this may not be seen as worth it, due the fact that it costs a lot of money.
It is not advisable for small, new businesses to attempt this as they may not survive the competition, bigger companies are able to use their economies of scale to reduce the average cost to them, thus it will affect smaller businesses more. This is very much a long term project, and businesses need to look to the future and eventually adopt Marks & Spencer's policies, as they will benefit from customer satisfaction, and they can grow and gain market share, which is the main strategy of the business, all other objectives or aims are secondary to this.