Bob Stott, chief executive of Morrisons, could leave the troubled supermarket group before his planned retirement in 2007.

Media reports suggest that headhunters could be searching for a replacement for Stott, who could leave earlier than 2007 if a suitable replacement is found.

Morrisons is currently using headhunting firm Hanson Green to search for four non-executive directors.

Media reports said that Archie Norman, the former Conservative MP and retailer credited with reversing Asda’s fortunes in the 1990s, has turned down an offer for a non-executive position.

Kevin Lomax, senior independent director at Marks and Spencer has also said that he is not interested in joining Morrisons board.

Helen Weir, finance director of Lloyds TSB, is also understood to have been approached by Morrisons.