Marks & Spencer has pulled off its biggest market share “bounce back” in more than a decade, executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose claimed.

Rose, who reported a full-year profits fall of 40 per cent to £604m, was not prepared to talk about “green shoots”, but said: “The good news is it hasn’t got any worse.”

He said that the general merchandise rebound in the past 12 weeks was the biggest in 11 years, but provided no details and said trading conditions remain volatile.

Pali International analyst Nick Bubb said Rose’s comment “sounded like a random statement plucked out of thin air” given that a turbulent high street environment prompts wild share swings.

Over the year, Rose said, Marks & Spencer held its market-leading position in clothing by volume and value.

M&S has launched a business change programme, 2020 – Doing the Right Thing, designed to deliver a “step change” at the store group. Headed by finance boss Ian Dyson, the programme is focused on increasing the pace of change at Marks & Spencer, accelerating multichannel development, expanding overseas operations and enhanced brand communication.

However, analysts complained that the 2020 programme was insufficiently detailed and too similar to Marks & Spencer’s existing strategy.

Marks & Spencer is also to introduce a new marketing tagline – “Quality worth every penny”. It is designed to emphasise Marks & Spencer’s value heritage – it celebrated its 125th anniversary with a return to its penny bazaar roots this week – and product quality. Executive director Steven Sharp said the tagline is “simple, true, relevant today and for the next 125 years”.

Marks & Spencer’s sales rose 0.4 per cent last year. UK like-for-likes fell 6.9 per cent in general merchandise and 5 per cent in food. Rose said of the results: “I don’t like them any more than anyone. Last year was tough for everyone – particularly for us.”

M&S served 900,000 customers – three times more than usual – on Wednesday morning when its Penny Bazaars opened. 60 penny items were sold every second.

‘Michels’ boy’ quits

M&S international boss Carl Leaver was the preferred choice of deputy chairman Sir David Michels to succeed Sir Stuart Rose, sources said this week.

Leaver, who like Michels has a background in the hotels business, was “very much Michels’ boy”, said Pali International’s Nick Bubb.

Leaver’s departure was revealed this week after a restructure meant he was offered a smaller role.

Finance and operations director Ian Dyson looks like the internal front-runner to succeed Rose and will head M&S’s 2020 programme in addition to his existing duties.

Michels declined to comment.