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Co-operative Group overhauls retail store networks

The Co-operative Group has brought in BT to revitalise and upgrade legacy networking infrastructure at its food retail business

The Co-operative Group has signed a multi-million pound, five-year agreement with BT to reinvigorate its IT and networking infrastructure across its Co-op food retail business in the UK.

Co-op is currently the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer and is in the middle of a major business transformation and digitisation plan as its core convenience store business reports more sales and market share.

The deal will see legacy IT infrastructure at 2,800 local, convenience and mid-sized stores around the UK transformed with fibre network links to enable Co-op to invest in its digital in-store experience.

It said this would let it to provide benefits for staff – for example, by enabling the introduction of faster till technology – and customers, with the planned introduction of in-store Wi-Fi.

Cheryl Marshall, retail CIO at Co-op said: “Our partnership with BT is core to enabling our transformation programme in retail and the wider Co-op. It provides the foundation blocks that futureproof our investments and enable a digital future for our customers and members”.

The enhanced network builds on an existing long-term partnership between the Co-operative Group and BT, and will sit on BT’s multi-protocol layer switching (MPLS) networking platform, offering more flexibility and bandwidth to support the business.

BT said other essential parts of the network would be backed up with other broadband technologies to improve resilience, meaning that Co-op can roll out new technologies with more confidence.

“We’re proud to be helping Co-op transform itself into a truly digital retailer. Shoppers increasingly expect retailers to introduce a digital experience to their physical stores to speed up, simplify and enhance their in-store experience,” said Colm O’Neill, BT managing director of major business and public sector.

“The retail technologies and services that Co-op is looking to introduce to bring about this change need to be underpinned by a high-speed, flexible and reliable network. We’re delighted to have been chosen as Co-op’s network partner as it begins its digital transformation journey,” added O’Neill.

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