Despite the takeover talk surrounding Safeway, the supermarket chain's chief technology officer (CTO) has stated that ongoing IT projects remain on track.
The company has 90,000 employees, 480 stores nationwide and an annual turnover of £9.5bn. Rival supermarket chain Morrison's has been cleared by the Department of Trade and Industry to make a bid for Safeway.
Safeway CTO Brian Keating told vnunet.com that the merger talk has changed some IT priorities.
"The IT department supports the business and we have to look at our plans. Most things have not been affected. Our plan is to get through the finishing line, whenever that is, at high speed," he said.
Keating explained that major projects, such as a PeopleSoft financial implementation, have not been affected.
"We had money sunk into it so we continued," he explained. "We believe that anyone that buys us will see that as a good thing to be done."
But Keating added that new high-risk, high-cost projects had been put on the backburner while the uncertainty continues.
He also said that the retailer's new intranet, rolled out over the past nine months, has helped to keep staff well informed.
"People put up [information about] societies and things to do, through to real business information like current performance," said Keating.
"Good communications with everyone is paramount, and the intranet has enabled that. It has been a big contributor to the fact that the morale on site is very good."
Safeway is also testing new stock-picking software in its warehouse, running on Linux.
The system tells staff what to pick via a headset or wrist-mounted device. The retailer hopes that the system will boost the accuracy of stock delivered to the stores.
"What's different is that we are running it on Linux. I think Linux is going to be a big winner. The picking software didn't run on Linux but we asked [the supplier] to get it to," said Keating.
Safeway is also working on tighter integration of disparate systems through the use of IBM WebSphere technologies.
"We have to do everything that Tesco and Sainsbury's do, so IT has to punch above its weight," explained Keating. "We have to have as much innovation and that's what we are trying to do."
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