Rolf Noskwith, chairman of Charnos, the hosiery, lingerie and knitwear manufacturer and supplier to M&S, blamed the company's problems on Marks and Spencer's current trading difficulties, the Financial Times reported.

Mr Noskwith said Charnos was in talks with its bankers to secure funding.

"The continued pressure Marks and Spencer is experiencing has had a severe impact on the Charnos results in terms of reduced margins", said Mr Noskwith.

He added: "This reduction in margins, coupled with the sales decline, had a significant impact on the cash flows during the year."

Mr Noskwith said that while the group's balance sheet at December 31 was "robust", Charnos was seeking to ensure it had the appropriate funding in place for the next 12 months, taking into account the seasonal trading of the business.

Charnos suffered annual pre-tax losses widening from £1.6m to £6.8m. Sales fell from £82m to £73.8m in the year to December 31.

Mr Noskwith said the figures reflected "the problems we share with other British textile companies, especially those associated closely with Marks and Spencer."

He added that trading remained "difficult", but the group's performance in the first quarter showed a "significant improvement" over the beginning of 2000.