Marks & Spencer is to shed nearly 1,000 employees in stores and several hundred at head office and support functions after disastrous Christmas trading, according to a national newspaper.

The retailer will announce the massive job cuts on Wednesday, according to the Times.

Marks & Spencer is scheduled to release a trading update on Wednesday. Sales at Marks & Spencer over Christmas are thought to have fallen by 8.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

The retailer declined to comment on the report.

Marks & Spencer launched several 20 per cent off Sales in the run up to Christmas in a bid to lure cash-strapped consumers into its shops, at a cost to its margins.

Last year M&S cut workers’ redundancy packages, and slashed investment to reduce its£3 billion debt.

GMB Union, which represents Marks & Spencer staff, has said it will take the retailer to an employment tribunal if it fails to give a 90 day consultation period.

GMB Legal Officer Maria Ludkin said: “Marks & Spencer dismissed reports that there would be redundancies when the whistle blower Tony Goode accused them of cutting the redundancy pay in preparation for redundancies. If today’s reports are correct M&S have to give 90 days notice for consultation. If M&S tries to take a short cut and treat each shop as a separate workplace, and thereby give only thirty days notice, GMB will not hesitate to take employment tribunal cases for a 90 day protective award as we have done at JJB Sports.”

On Monday Adams, which fell into administration after Christmas, shed another 850 staff by closing 111 shops, while Passion for Perfume collapsed leaving 185 people jobless.

According to The Times, fashion chain Mosaic - which owns Oasis, Karen Millen and Principles - has had an emergency team sent in from Deloitte. The stores employ about 5,000 staff whose jobs will be at risk unless a new lender is found to refinance the business.

Other retailers to have announced job cuts in recent months include Focus, which axed 700 of its workforce last year, as well as Halfords, which made 200 employees redundant.

The collapse of Woolworths resulted in the loss of 27,000 jobs.

Unemployment is now rising at a faster rate than during the 1990s recession.

The number of high street jobs cut or under threat since September has exceeded 35,000. The Centre for Economics and Business Research predicts between 100,000 and 135,000 further jobs will go in the sector this year.