British retailer, Marks & Spencer, has begun a search for a new chief executive for the company's financial services division, in preparation for the planned retirement of the current head of that arm of the business.

Current chief executive, David Towell, retires next year and the company is eager to find a replacement.

The new chief executive will sit on the main board to help develop further the synergies between the retailing and financial sides of the business.

Mr Towell joined Marks & Spencer Financial Services in 1985. In 1989, he was appointed to the M&S Financial Services board as a director and in 1999 was appointed chief executive.