The timing of Sir Stuart Rose’s departure from Marks & Spencer has come under renewed scrutiny after deputy chairman Sir David Michels reportedly declared his interest in succeeding Rose.

According to the Financial Times, Michels – who is also a senior independent director – told investors he would like to chair the retailer, in a move that could prompt Rose to step down before his planned retirement in July 2011.

But sources close to Rose said he had no intention of leaving M&S ahead of schedule and had made it clear to investors he would not favour Michels replacing him as chairman.

The news comes after Rose and director of marketing Steven Sharp agreed this week to give up a third of their shares they were entitled to receive under the terms of a long-term bonus scheme to avert a public showdown with shareholders at next month’s agm.