Wesfarmers spikes Coles IT decentralisation plans

Wesfarmers will not break down Coles' centralised IT infrastructure just yet, according to Wesfarmer executives.

Wesfarmers will not break down Coles' centralised IT infrastructure just yet, according to the retail giant's executives.

Wesfarmers announced plans in February to hand control over technology back to the managing directors of individual Coles divisions after acquiring the supermarket chain last year — a move that was to overturn years of work by ex-Coles CIO Peter Mahler to centralise IT decision making.

The choice earlier this year to decentralise control over Coles technology was consistent with the company's approach to other business units, according to a Wesfarmers spokesperson.

"All the IT is done by the business divisions. That's the way we operate, whether it's Bunnings or our insurance or coal mines that we own," the spokesperson said at the time.

However, at an investor briefing in Sydney, Coles chief operating officer, Mick McMahon, tempered the company's initial stance, saying only managing "front end systems" will be transferred to Coles' divisions, while "infrastructure and common systems" will remain within Coles for now.

Wesfarmers still plans to decentralise Coles IT infrastructure when it is considered "sensible", according to the briefing.

The shift in direction is not a reversal on the previous announcement, a Wesfarmers spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au, adding: "There was always going to be some continuing reliance on using Coles infrastructure because it was there.".

"To what extent [each division] ends up with self-contained IT systems remains to be seen. We wouldn't comment any further than that," the spokesperson concluded.