Luc Vandevelde, the man at the top of British high-street retailer Marks & Spencer, could soon step down from his CEO post, but retain the role of chairman.

Speaking to the Observer newspaper on Sunday, Vandevelde commented: “The time may be right to split the roles at the top.”

A spokesperson from the company insisted yesterday [Monday] that media reports suggesting that M&S’ retail MD Roger Holmes will take over as CEO are “misleading”. It was suggested however that the managerial duties could soon be split: “Luc has said that remaining as joint chief executive and chairman is not his ideal […] A final decision will be made by the board when the financial year ends in March.”

Vandevelde became chairman in January 2000, and joint CEO when a series of disastrous trading figures led Peter Salsbury to resign in September last year. At the time, he pledged to resign should he fail to boost M&S’ performance, but was able to post the first increase in profits for over three years last week.

For the six months to 29 September, pre-tax profits were up by 20% and UK operating profits rose by 18.2%.

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A move to open its flagship stores for 24 hours a day in the run up to Christmas will also boost sales during the crucial period, said the company.