M&S boss Steve Rowe was on fighting form when I saw him earlier today at the interim results meeting.

He came across as confident in his strategy which, it was revealed today, includes store closures, space reconfiguration and a new approach to international growth.

Some might say we’ve been here before. A succession of M&S bosses have first expanded, then retrenched overseas, or have overhauled stores and attempted to reinvigorate the offer.

But Rowe perhaps brings a practical shopkeeping sensibility to the role.

His plans make intellectual sense but it will be the practical implementation that is likely to make the difference between success and failure.

As M&S posted a fall in profits, Primark reported a rise. However, like-for-likes and margin were both down at the value powerhouse.

Over at New Look, the first half was “extremely challenging”, while American Apparel’s UK business has been put into administration.

But clothing groups can take some heart of the latest BRC retail sales data, which delivered a better performance in October as new ranges helped sales.

Quote of the day

“These are tough decisions, but vital to building a future M&S.”

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe on plans to close stores and cease trading company-owned stores in 10 overseas markets.

Today in numbers

1.7% – rise in retail like-for-like sales in October, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

1.2 m sq ft – Primark’s increase in selling space last year, bringing the total to 12.3 million sq ft.

Tomorrow’s agenda

Tomorrow the focus shifts from M&S to Sainsbury’s, which posts interim results. Luxury retailer Burberry will also issue first-half results.

George MacDonald, executive editor