Somerfield puts SAP plans on hold



Troubled supermarket chain Somerfield has delayed plans to rollout a company-wide SAP/R3 project while it evaluates cheaper alternatives.

Somerfield...



Troubled supermarket chain Somerfield has delayed plans to rollout a company-wide SAP/R3 project while it evaluates cheaper alternatives.

Somerfield faces increasing pressure following its high-cost merger with Kwik Save and the resignation of its chief executive, David Simons, last week.

Somerfield had originally hoped to rollout the system, which will allow it to place orders with suppliers electronically, early this year.

But Tom Scott, head of central IT, confirmed that Somerfield is reviewing the business case for SAP and may instead opt for the cheaper alternative of re-engineering its existing database systems.

"SAP is on the cards but it is certainly not a done deal. It may be that a simplification of the current systems with a few key enhancements may give us what we need more cheaply," he said.

The retailer has put SAP on hold until June while it evaluates an alternative plan to re-write and simplify existing legacy databases, which it says are difficult to maintain and costly to enhance. "It's a matter of identifying the key processes which really give your company benefit, and how they could be supported by SAP or by simplification. That's the assessment we have to make," said Scott.

Financial pressures have led to Somerfield slimming down its use of IT contractors, with 95% of its IT staff now in permanent positions.

But the retailer said that Simons' departure would make no difference to its IT programme and that as far as IT is concerned, it would be "business as usual."

"There may be a period of evaluation but at the moment we have got approved projects and we are getting on with them," said Scott.

Somerfield has spent about £8m and 10,000 man-days integrating its IT systems with those of Kwik Save, smoothing the way for the company to develop joint supply and distribution chains.

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