Battling retail giant, Marks & Spencer, has hired three top design firms to help shape the interior of its stores of the future.

The three firms, 20/20, Rodney Fitch Design Consultants and Din Associates, are working with M&S on a future development plan.

An M&S spokesman said: "It is very early stages and nothing has been determined but we are looking at what our stores could look like in 10 or 15 years' time.

"It's too premature to say any more but we are looking at customer buying patterns and information on a local level."

Last year, M&S opened the first of a new generation of "new concept" stores at Kensington, London, Sutton, south London and Fosse Park in Leicester.

But a spokesman for M&S said the current design project is nothing to do with the concept stores.

"It's looking at plans for the future," said the spokesman.

The three design firms are working with M&S' corporate designer, Charles Jaggard, who says he wants to create a design strategy working towards the future.

By Deborah Bowyer