It was a close fought race but Marks & Spencer's recovery was a personal and professional triumph for Stuart Rose. The figures speak for themselves. It banked its biggest profits for nine years. Half-year pre-tax profits were up 32% to £405.1m, driven by strong like-for-like sales growth across the board; Q2 two total food sales were up 10.9%; and the company remains on track to make £1bn profit this year for only the second time in its history.

Having stripped out costs, revamped stores and restored the quality of the award winning food range, attracting 19 million new customers, no wonder Rose was confident he had a robust business plan. And with the BP Connect forecourts partnership ready to roll across 200 locations in the new year, and M&S all set to stretch its brand to sell TVs, mobiles and yet more non-food, next year promises to be better still.