Retail giants meet IT challenge of the euro

IT departments in large UK retailers have been busy modifying systems to accept euros.

IT departments in large UK retailers have been busy modifying systems to accept euros.

Number of retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and John Lewis, will accept euros nationwide from 1 January, while others, including WHSmith and HMV, will accept the new currency at selected stores such as at ports and airports.

Marks & Spencer has implemented a conversion routine for its foreign subsidiaries that will enable the company to compare sales on a like-for-like basis. It has also added functionality to its point of sale systems in UK stores to enable it to accept non-cash-based euro payments.

Elizabeth Nelson-Walker, head of the corporate IT project for the euro at Marks & Spencer, said, "We have made some changes to our IT systems, but we will carry out a full impact analysis on the UK if and when the Government decides to opt in."

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the introduction of the euro is not likely to have great implications for retailers' IT systems, but added that UK companies could learn from the European experience

"Companies will only future-proof their IT systems for the euro if it is cheap and cost-effective for them to do so," said David Southwell, head of media at the BRC. "However, euro-compliance will not be the deciding factor when companies consider new systems."

According to Southwell, UK companies will be able to learn from businesses in the euro zone and should watch to see what goes right and what goes wrong.

"The fact the country is not in the first phase means UK companies are in the position to achieve a smooth transition," he said. "For example, 1 January is the worst possible time to start a project such as the euro as it is the busiest time of the year for retailers and financial services companies."

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