Speaking at the Retail Week Conference in London, the M&S chairman said: "The key thing for retailers to retain in this period was confidence in their business and their strategy.
Rose said: "My objective is to stay in the upper quartile of performers at all times. My main objective is to maintain confidence because when you let go of it it takes an awful long time to get it back."
Rose said that the downturn in the market was serious and that retail observers only had to look at the action that the US Federal Reserve took yesterday to see that there was a real fear factor operating in the market place.
The M&S chairman said that interest rate cuts would take five to six months to come through to consumer spending but were unlikely to compensate for the pressure placed on customers by rises in fuel and food costs and other inflationary pressures.
He added: "We are all going to have to work harder to make money."
M&S' kidswear and lingerie businesses were still pretty robust according to Rose but he conceded that menswear and womenswear had felt the pressure from the downturn in the economic climate. However he told the conference there was still ways for M&S to get better margins and that the retailer was currently looking at consolidating its supply base for the second time to work with fewer, bigger players.
Despite his downbeat take on the general trading outlook for the next couple of years, Rose was robust about M&S's strategy. "I will predict we do not do any worse than anybody else during this turbulent period," he said.