Young-fashion chains Topshop and Topman are on course for record years despite the savage downturn in the fashion market, owner Sir Philip Green revealed this week.

In an exclusive interview with Retail Week, Green said his young-fashion brands, which also include Miss Selfridge, had been performing more strongly than mainstream brands. He added that Topman had been faring especially well.

Green also expressed his support for Marks & Spencer chief executive Sir Stuart Rose, who has been under pressure from institutional shareholders over his proposed elevation to executive chairman.

“In the light of the current difficulties in the marketplace, if I was an institutional investor in Marks & Spencer, my principal focus would be on there being minimal disruption in one of the most challenging times in retail we’ve seen,” he said.

While Green admitted that the market was extremely challenging, he said it will be impossible to read just how serious the downturn is until May, because of the tough comparatives against Easter last year.

However, he said he was continuing to expand the business, with new stores this year in Brent Cross, Liverpool and Westfield London, and the first US Topshop store due to open in New York this autumn.

Green was speaking ahead of this week’s World Retail Congress in Barcelona, where he shared the stage with J Crew chairman and chief executive Mickey Drexler, discussing the secrets of retail leadership.

Green said hard work and determination were key. “It’s about how much time, energy and effort you’re prepared to sacrifice,” he said. “There’s no possibility of knowing when you’re 16 where you’d be when you’re 56. Even I’m not that good.”