Can M & S reinvent itself at a time when the high street is suffering from the worst crisis of memory?
That's the question that comes up about the retail chain as it presents its latest figures to the City this week.
"Our M & S" has a special status in our hearts and affections. It's a memorial repository, the place where millions of us went with our parents for milestone purchases like a school uniform or as a young adult for a first formal lawsuit. However, this has not prevented the chain from suffering the same brutal forces as the rest of the retail industry, including the rise of online shopping and unfair deal rules.
Memories repository: "Our M & S" has a special status in our hearts and affections
M & S has a business rate bill of about £ 200 million, compared to about £ 14 million for Amazon in its 14 warehouses in England and Wales. Although the budget has taken a big step forward for small businesses, it could not solve the problems of larger companies chains.
M & S also pulls a huge ball and chain in the form of countless stores in wrong places, awkward old computer systems and other luggage, which makes it a disadvantage for newer, nimble competitors.
A long line of bosses has already tried to revive the chain without any pleasure. Will the current top duo, Chairman Archie Norman and CEO Steve Rowe, succeed where they failed?
The numbers this week will not be pretty as the two are in the early stages of their overhaul when some of the most painful measures are taken. The company is very much in the treatment phase, and it is a fair way before recovery can begin. However, there are reasons to believe that Rowe and Norman might fare better than their predecessors.
Norman made a name for himself in the early 1990s with the transformation of Asda and did a great job at ITV Rowe is an M & S Lifer who has worked at the retailer man and boy and, when cut, has the company logo in it Would engrave heart.
One big difference this time is that both companies are free of the arrogance of the companies that M & S had previously affected, and that culture must change.
The 100 branch closures announced so far are unlikely to end – M & S will have a leaner portfolio of branches in the future, and the online offering will be more heavily invested, which, after a lot of work, still does not match snuff.
It is also a major investment in the introduction of digital technology in stores through a strategic partnership with Microsoft. The innovations are likely to include cash-free shopping and technology that allows customers to see what they look like in an outfit from all angles.
The company is seriously endangered by the descent of the FTSE100. That would be a blow to his pride if the small investors, who still make up a significant part of the register, would upset and sell some mutual funds.
The current market value of M & S is 4.9 billion pounds. That's way behind Next at nearly £ 8bn and on par with online fashion retailer Asos, whose market value is around £ 4.7bn.
The fact that old Bruiser Sir Philip Green was back on the news reminds us that things could get worse.
The Topshop tycoon was dangerously close to taking over the chain in 2004, and if that had been the case, it might have found its way from BHS.
Even so, a decade ago, the M & S share was one pound lower than its 400 pence bid, dropping 8 percent this year. Rowe and Norman need all their ingenuity and good luck.