Marks & Spencer has completed the first part of a major SAP rollout across its UK operations.

The rollout, being run by services supplier IBM, is part of an IT and supply chain overhaul, called ‘2020 - Doing the right thing’, costing £400 million in the next year alone. M&S described SAP as its future “core business system”, as it standardises business processes globally.

M&S today said that “over the last few months” SAP went live in its foods division, following a rollout last year of the software in its finance office and non-merchandise procurement division, as well as in operations outside Britain.

In the next phase, SAP will be rolled out across M&S’ general merchandise operations, with the project finishing in 2012. The company said it had begun accelerating the pace of change to “fundamentally transform” the way it does business.

As the company reported annual operating profits had grown 9.8 percent to £844 million, it said it was “committed to building a world-class retailer through increasing the pace of change and driving operational excellence in the business”. This involved focused investment in “supply chain and IT”, it said, among other factors.

Under Project 2020, M&S said it had trialled a simplified ‘single touch’ process in its Kidswear warehouses, “which enables us to move products more quickly, reducing lead times and the number of times stock is handled”. It has closed 21 out of its 110 warehouses, and is developing a site in the Midlands that will be a national distribution centre and dedicated e-commerce facility.

Two weeks ago, M&S launched a version of its website designed specifically for mobile devices.

In-store, it is also implementing an “improved” stock management system with real-time data. Alongside a new electronic point of sale system being rolled out by Fujitsu to its stores by 2011, M&S said the systems will deliver “cost efficiencies as well as an enhanced customer experience”.

New time, attendance and staff scheduling systems will be rolled out “over the next couple of years”, after M&S outsourced human resources systems.