Marks & Spencer (M&S) has confirmed that Gillian Ridley Whittle has stepped down as the retailer's development and buying director for women's wear.

Whittle, who was promoted from head of buying in May, is moving to Australia, a spokesperson for M&S told just-style today (21 October). She added that it is too early to say when Whittle will leave the company. 

Whittle is the latest women's wear director to leave the business this year, after the resignations in May of Mary Wastnage, formerly head of buying for M&S Woman, and Sara Bradley, who was head of buying for M&S' in-house brands.

Janie Schaffer, the former head of the retailer's lingerie division left in mid-April, after just a few months in the role. Meanwhile Carole Boyes-Weston, head of design for the Per Una and Limited Collection brands, left M&S in January.

M&S in July blamed poor weather and promotions after recording its eighth consecutive quarterly decline in like-for-like clothing and general merchandise sales. The retailer will report its half-year results on 5 November.