The beloved British retailer continued to make news through 2009 after the storm in a D-cup over plans to charge more for large bras and as speculation reached fever pitch over the likely successor to executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose. Sir Stuart, who will stand down in stages from 2010, insists that Marks is "in pretty good shape" and claims that full recovery under his control has only been delayed by the macro economy.

Certainly, the company seemed to be rallying towards the end of the year with sales up 2.7 per cent for the quarter to September compared to the year-ago figure. The company is even tentatively moving back to expansion into foreign countries, including a store in the expatastic town of Marbella.

A big part of the new M&S might come from IT. In the last few years the company has made significant improvements to financials software, supply-chain management, EPOS systems to speed up the parade of customers paying, handheld terminals for stock-taking and through the building of a dedicated warehouse for e-commerce. The group has targeted online food, clothing and homeware sales for growth with an ambition of making £500m per year online by 2011. There should be ample room for online growth as M&S on the web currently lags behind store sales when compared to most rivals.

A new image- and video-rich website launched in October 2009 might help combat the problem of a high proportion of prospects that view items but don't complete purchases. Social networks might also help with the company claiming 80,000 "fans" on Facebook. Separately, Fizzback helped the retailer implement a customer feedback system that lets customers voice their views by SMS or web.
Outsourcing might also come under the spotlight with the firm saying it has renegotiated certain supplier deals. Computacenter manages the firm's networks and a deal announced in January 2009 saw Fujitsu Services provide in-store IT support for 600 outlets.