Chief financial officer Richard Pennycook was tipped for the top job at Morrisons and speculation he may choose to leave is already being aired.

One possibility mooted by a senior trade source is that Marc Bolland could be interested in taking him to M&S. Current M&S finance director Ian Dyson was thought to be in the running for the chief executive role and may also be exploring his options. "I don't know how successful one can judge Dyson's tenure at M&S," said one source. "He was appointed after the turnaround by Charles Wilson."

Pennycook, who is believed to have been among the last three candidates for the Morrisons job, could not be reached for comment, but analysts said he would be missed because of his key role in turning around the business after the Safeway buyout.

Despite the appointment of Philips, Morrisons refused to say when it would release Bolland to M&S. The Dutchman is under contract until November.