Marks & Spencer today confirmed that one of its top designers may be considering leaving the company.

A spokeswoman said that Sheila Brown, head of womenswear design, was "in talks with senior management".

"She hasn't resigned", the spokeswoman said. "She is highly regarded and very well loved in the industry."

Ms Brown has been with M&S for 12 years and heads a powerful team which she built up during her time with the company.

One press report said: "She has recruited some very capable world-class designers and the very strong team that she leads is committed to turning round the fortunes of womenswear."

On the other side of the coin, struggling M&S announced recently it had hired two top retailers from outside the company to head up two of its key departments.

Liberty managing director, Michele Jobling is to join M&S as business unit director of childrenswear and Wal-Mart Hypermarkets UK managing director, Justin King, is the new business unit director of foods.