British department store Marks & Spencer is braced for a reported £8bn takeover bid from Qatar.

The much-loved retailer is reportedly being eyed by the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority, which is forming a consortium to fund the acquisition, according to The Sunday Times.

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund already owns Harrods, which it bought in 2010, and it has a 26% stake in supermarket Sainsbury’s. It also has a share in Heathrow Airport.

It is understood the Qataris are looking to form a consortium and have approached private equity houses and banks. But it is believed that no official approach has yet been made for the chain.

In 2004, entrepreneur Sir Philip Green launched an unsuccessful hostile takeover bid for M&S.

A spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer declined to comment.

The bid talk comes as another member of senior management leaves M&S. Sally Bendelow, head of design at Marks & Spencer Home has left after 10 years, according to the Daily Mail.

Her departure follows that of Kate Bostock, the executive in charge of clothing and home, menswear boss Richard Price and womenswear trading director Annette Browne, who have all gone in the past year.

It is understood that Bendelow left about a week ago and a replacement will be sought.

Marks & Spencer said: “We would like to thank Sally for her contribution and wish her well for the future.”