Retailer Forms Worldwide Exchange

FRAMINGHAM (03/31/2000) - Eleven retail giants in the U.S. and Europe say they will form an Internet business-to-business marketplace called the WorldWide Retail Exchange.

The companies include five U.S. chains: grocers Albertson's Inc. in Boise, Idaho, and Safeway Inc. in Pleasanton, California; pharmacy CVS Corp. in Woonsocket, Rhode Island; and general merchandise retailers Kmart Corp. in Troy, Michigan, and Target Corp. in Minneapolis.

Other companies in the exchange are French grocery retailers Auchan Group and Casino Guichard-Perrachon; British pharmacy retailer Kingfisher PLC; department store chain Marks and Spencer PLC; grocer Tesco PLC; and Royal Ahold N.V., a grocery retailer in The Netherlands.

The businesses have more than 30,000 stores worldwide and had combined sales of $300 billion last year, according to a press release announcing the exchange today.

The exchange will begin operating in the middle of this year with the goal of improving trading among the retailers and their more than 100,000 suppliers, the release said. It will offer standardized item information and auction capabilities.

The companies will each hold a 5% share of the exchange until it becomes clear how many other retailers want to join the partnership, the statement said. The companies anticipate an initial investment of $100 million over the first several years.

Company officials weren't available for comment, and no information was available on whether suppliers had already signed up for the service, or were interested in doing so.

The retailers' exchange follows a growing trend of business sectors forming Internet marketplaces in attempts to improve supply-chain management and to lower their costs. Earlier this week a group of aerospace companies said they would form a Net-based trading exchange, and last week a consortium of chemical and petroleum companies announced plans to launch a business-to-business electronic marketplace.