There have been conflicting reports circulating about whether or not the Australian retail giant Coles Myer is looking for a replacement for its outgoing chief executive Dennis Eck.

One report in The Australian claimed that the company had hired top executive search firm Egon Zehnder to track down a replacement for the out of favour chief exec. However, several reports record Coles Myer spokesman Greg Every refuting the claims saying: "The only search for top management at Coles Myer is the one currently underway for the Target managing director."

Dennis Eck fell from grace following a boardroom debate over plummeting profits in the company, but he has maintained that he will see out his current contract which is due to expire at the end of 2002, although some are expecting an early departure.

The two most likely internal candidates for the job have already left the company. Senior executives Gary Nye and Terry McCartney who took control of the Myer Grace and Target department store chains have both quit during the last three months, leaving a reasonable sized hole at the top.

Whoever takes on the role at the top will be under close scrutiny from investors as they attempt to turnaround a disappointing first half net profit drop of 33 per cent to $196.4m.