Marks & Spencer has written to its 55,000 British staff in an attempt to defuse tension over chairman Luc Vandevelde's proposed £810,000 bonus.

In a newsletter that airs 'topical events', the company has stressed that no decision has yet been taken over whether to grant Vandevelde his bonus.

Staff have been told that the board's remuneration committee is scheduled to meet twice to discuss executive compensation, including the chairman's controversial payout.

If the remuneration committee, chaired by Dame Stella Rimington, decides the chairman has fulfilled the bonus criteria, Vandevelde could still choose not to take up the payout in recognition of the public outcry towards it.

The company is expected to report a fall in profits from £517m ($746m) to around £450m ($649m) this year and there is widespread disappointment at the lack of recovery since Vandevelde took the helm.