Wharf wins smalls victory


The campaigning local paper for Canary Wharf has struck a blow for its readers – by persuading the area’s Marks & Spencer store to stock women’s underwear.

The free newspaper The Wharf launched its brief campaign in September when M&S opened a new Docklands store.

Evidently, Wharf readers had been looking forward to picking up reasonably priced undies at the store and were bitterly disappointed to find it didn’t have a lingerie department.

Wharf staff picketed the store brandishing placards, handed M&S managers a 400-signature petition and the paper provided a forum for the heartfelt views of readers with vox pops on the issue. After six weeks of pressure, the store giant caved in and has agreed to add smalls to the goods on display.

Editor Dan Bourke said: “It’s a great result for our readers. It may sound trivial to outsiders, but Canary Wharf is detached from the rest of London and people here have to rely on shops on the estate for everything.

“Hats off to Marks & Spencer. They really sat up and took notice of what was a groundswell of Wharf opinion.”

A spokesperson for M&S said: “We do listen to our customer feedback, in this case that came through The Wharf. “Our customers in the mall obviously read the paper and it has been a valuable channel for them to voice their opinion.”

The Wharf’s campaign was helped by Dirk Benedict, a star of the Eighties TV show The A-Team.

Wharf reporter Alan Lodge tracked down Benedict to a Docklands sci-fi show and when the situation was explained to him the star was happy to help out.

“I can’t believe it,” he told The Wharf. “Marks & Spencer not selling lingerie is totally absurd. You guys are doing a good thing for the women of Canary Wharf – and I want to help out.” He later posed for pictures with a banner reading: “What do we want? Bras”.

The campaign, led by Wharf chief reporter Allison Martin, had previously gained support in the national press when Sarah Sands, deputy editor of the Canary Wharf-based Daily Telegraph, wrote about it in her column.

After the victory, Sands said: “What a triumph for The Wharf and great campaigning journalism.

“I’m glad M&S realised it’s what’s on the inside that counts and that women can now ride the escalators with peace of mind.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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