UK retailer Marks and Spencer has launched a “change” programme across all areas of its business after posting a drop in annual profits this morning (19 May).

The programme, entitled “2020 – Doing the Right Thing”, will be headed by financial director Ian Dyson, and aims to “speed up” changes that the upmarket grocer has been making in the business.

“The company has been undergoing a process of change in the past few years,” a spokesperson told just-food. “We are now putting more changes into place.”

The “2020” executive change team headed by Dyson, will also include head of food John Dixon, fashion buyer Kate Bostock, director of retail Steve Rowe and head of human resources Tanith Dodge.

The programme aims to “increase the pace of change and operational execution in the business”, drive its international business in China, India, and Central and Eastern Europe, and “accelerate” towards becoming a “multi-channel” retailer.

The retailer today posted a drop in annual profits and cut its dividend by a third.

Annual pre-tax profits for the 52 weeks ended 28 March dropped to GBP706.2m (US$1.1bn) from GBP1.13bn in the previous year and dividends were cut to GBP0.15 per share from GBP0.22 in 2008.

M&S said that a “significant proportion” of the capital expenditure required to deliver the “step-change” has already been factored into its plans, including investment in supply chain and information technology.

As a result, the company said it expects capital expenditure for 2009/10 to be around GBP400m.

“Looking ahead, we anticipate additional investment over and above this level of around GBP200m to GBP300m across the following two financial years,” the company said.

M&S also announced that Carl Leaver has decided that reverting to a role “driving” its international operations “does not fit with his career aspirations”.

Leaver will be leaving the business by “mutual agreement” over the next two-three months, M&S said.

The company said an announcement about the future leadership of international will be made “in due course”.