Irwin Lee, the newly appointed vice president of Procter & Gamble UK and Ireland, has revealed that the company is to put a faster rate of innovation at the heart of its growth strategy .

Product teams would be told to work on innovation cycles as short as six months instead of the current three years, Lee said. "The UK is a concentrated retail environment and we have to respond to the pace of innovation the market needs," he said.

"The importance of NPD here is such that you need something new every year, and even twice a year. "We are therefore rethinking our innovation. Our development groups are working to brand innovation cycles of two to three years. That is not enough. We need to be faster. We want to feed innovation into the market."

Lee, who has managed five different international divisions during his 22 years at P&G, said intensifying efforts in this area could help to offset the effects of any slowdown in consumer spending, as the effects of the global credit crunch hit the high street.

"We haven't seen signs of a downturn in spending just yet but then I am an eternal optimist," he said. "I have tremendous confidence in our consumers' resilience. We have stayed close to them and have a strong understanding of their needs. If we continue to come up with innovation that satisfies their needs for value and performance, they will respond."

Lee, former vice president of P&G's China division, started his new role in August, replacing Gianni Ciserani.