Retail group Kingfisher has signed a multi-million pound raft of contracts to support a new generation of Web, Wap and interactive television services.
Central to the project is the creation of a new e-commerce centre on the outskirts of London that will provide Kingfisher brands, including Woolworths, Superdrug and B&Q, with a platform to grow their online sales from £40m to a projected £1.5bn within five years.
The centre will be run by hosting company Exodus under a one-year deal that will enable Kingfisher to expand rapidly as online demand grows. It will be equipped with Sun servers and run ATG's Dynamo e-commerce software.
The group has shied away from a longer-term contract with Exodus amid signs that the cost of outsourced services is falling as competition among hosting companies grows.
The centre will provide Woolworths, Superdrug and B&Q with a single e-commerce platform, allowing the group to share infrastructure and significantly cut development costs.
Kingfisher will be able to take a modular approach to developing its online services so that components created for one outlet can be reused by another with few modifications.
Kingfisher eventually plans to move all its brands to the same infrastructure as Woolworths, B&Q and Superdrug.