U.K. Supermarket Abandons Online Shopping

LONDON (06/15/2000) - U.K. supermarket chain Somerfield PLC will cease operation of 24-7, its Internet home shopping business, the company announced Thursday.

Somerfield will immediately cease development of the service and will stop taking orders on June 19. The operation will completely cease on June 25, said Jill Rawlins, head of corporate affairs for Somerfield.

The company will close all three fulfillment centers, located in London and Bristol, which had been solely used for the service.

There will be 226 jobs "affected" by the closure, Rawlins said. "But because we have roughly 67,000 employees nationwide, there may be openings for people to relocate," she added.

But it wasn't a case of the rest of the business showing substantial growth while the online operation did not. "It hasn't been a jolly quarter for the industry in general," Rawlins said.

However, the company said in its statement that it "will extend into more of its stores" its home delivery service.

The company has not written off e-commerce entirely though. "The chairman does say that we may actually look at the role of e-commerce in the future," Rawlins said. "But right now we have to focus on our core business."

Somerfield, in Bristol, U.K., can be reached at +44-117-935-9359, or on the Web at http://www.somerfield.co.uk/.

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