Marks & Spencer is to shed up to 1,000 jobs in the wake of its worst Christmas period for years, according to reports.

The high street giant is expected to confirm tomorrow that hundreds of jobs will go at its stores, with a further swathe of cuts also being touted at its head offices.

The news continues a bleak start to 2009 for M&S, which is set to announce its sales figures for the key Christmas period tomorrow – with the iconic retailer expected to post its worst festive performance for decades.

Analysts suggest food sales at the group may have fallen by as much as 10% compared to the equivalent period last year, with M&S thought to have suffered in competition with the major supermarkets

Sales of clothes are tipped to drop by around 8%, despite a series of high-profile sales featuring dramatic price reductions.

However, M&S executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose is expected to argue that the economic downturn makes direct comparisons with recent years invalid.