Marks and Spencer has been dealt a blow with the resignation of executive director Charles Wilson to join Booker as chief executive.

He will leave on October 28 2005 and will not be directly replaced. His roles and responsibilities will be “reallocated in due course” according to a company announcement.

“Charles joined M&S to do a specific job, namely to focus the business and to deliver cash and cost improvements,” said Rose. “He has delivered these and helped to build a solid foundation for the company to go forward.

“Our priority now is to drive the business forward in the key areas of product, service and environment.

“We would like to thank Charles for his considerable contribution and wish him well for the future.”

Wilson was a close advisor to M&S CEO Stuart Rose and joined M&S last year with Rose. He oversaw systems, retail process and operation issues.

He rejoins Booker, having left the cash and carry chain in 2000 after serving as MD there.

Wilson began his career at Procter & Gamble and teamed up with Rose in 1998 to bring Booker back from the brink of insolvency.

The development marks another setback for M&S, which reported its seventh quarter of falling profits last week.