'Long haul' IT consolidation at Coles

'Long haul' IT consolidation at Coles

Summary: Coles Myer's hope to integrate the merchandising systems of its various retail brands is unlikely to happen before 2009, according to chief executive John Fletcher.Updating financial analysts on the company's strategic plan to integrate many of its food, liquor, fuel and general goods brands under a new "Coles" umbrella, Fletcher said integrating IT systems would be a big factor in the plan's success.

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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Coles Myer's hope to integrate the merchandising systems of its various retail brands is unlikely to happen before 2009, according to chief executive John Fletcher.

Updating financial analysts on the company's strategic plan to integrate many of its food, liquor, fuel and general goods brands under a new "Coles" umbrella, Fletcher said integrating IT systems would be a big factor in the plan's success.

Since 2003 the company has been working on a five year supply chain revamp, budgeted to cost AU$600 million.

However, he asked investors to have patience with the company's IT "transformation" project, as achieving its technology goals by 2009 might prove a challenge.

"I would say that one of the key things that will ultimately determine the pace of this thing rolling out is IT systems," said Fletcher.

Coles was now "very close" on a common point of sale platform, he said. The company had run 14 different point of sale platforms when the supply chain revamp began.

This is one of a number of integration projects going on at Coles.

"Common merchandise will be a big one, because supermarkets and general merchandise are on different [platforms], and for that reason, nobody should be thinking that the world's going to change in 12 months," he said.

"One of the last things that will happen is we'll get Kmart's merchandise system and supermarkets on the same platform and that's probably late oh-eight, maybe oh-nine. It will take time to get there."

Coles has about 1,000 staff working in its Bourke Street, Melbourne offices, most of which are IT contractors. This number will not drop until the first projects are complete in 2008, according to Fletcher.

Despite the "long haul", Fletcher assured investors the technology transformation was making steady progress each year.

In 2003 the company identified about eight of its key retail systems to integrate, and drew them up on a marker board to show progress.

"We did this as a team, we said let's, for interest, colour in each one that's different. And we just ran out of colours," he said.

The IT transformation has been about reducing that number. "Every year we get fewer colours on that map," he added.

Topic: Emerging Tech

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