Marks & Spencer is to transfer employees within its IT department to a third-party supplier as part of a deal that will outsource technical support staff.

Employees are being consulted on the proposal, which will involve moving a number of them to an as yet unnamed IT services supplier.

An Marks & Spencer spokeswoman said the retailer has completed a rigorous tender process for the deal and chosen a supplier, but has not yet signed a contract. She said staff are being consulted and an undecided number will transfer under TUPE regulations, adding that speculation that 80 staff are set to be redeployed was wide of the mark.

She added that the move was part of a wider efficiency drive within the department. “We’ve had a project under way since last year to consolidate our supplier base for infrastructure and application support as a way of providing a more efficient IT service for the business, as well as reducing costs.”

A spokeswoman for Computacenter, the services firm that signed a five-year deal with M&S in 2007, has denied that any M&S staff will be relocated to it.

When M&S IT and supply chain director Darryl Stein joined the retailer in 2006 there were about 300 permanent staff in the IT department, as well as several hundred contractors. The spokeswoman would not confirm the existing size of the IT team.