FIVE AHOLD DIVISIONS WILL INTEGRATE UNIT OPERATIONS

ATLANTA -- Stop & Shop Cos., Quincy, Mass., is the first Ahold USA division to move from its legacy systems to a suite of applications that will connect store operations, including forecasting, replenishment, inventory management and store management, and integrate data between the store and corporate levels.Ahold here, which operates more than 1,000 U.S. supermarkets under five retail banners, expects

ATLANTA -- Stop & Shop Cos., Quincy, Mass., is the first Ahold USA division to move from its legacy systems to a suite of applications that will connect store operations, including forecasting, replenishment, inventory management and store management, and integrate data between the store and corporate levels.

Ahold here, which operates more than 1,000 U.S. supermarkets under five retail banners, expects to have the store operations suite installed in four Stop & Shop stores by mid-year, according to a source familiar with the situation. The company reportedly expects 187 Stop & Shop stores to be live with the system by January 2000. According to the source, Stop & Shop rolled out the solution from Armature, Lisle, Ill., in its first store in October 1998.

"Store operations are an integral part of the grocery supply chain, and must be fully integrated with our management information systems. This solution will help us to accomplish this integration effectively without interruptions to customers or staff," Dick Baird, executive vice president of store operations for Stop & Shop, said in a statement.

Bi-Lo, Mauldin, S.C., reportedly will begin migrating to the computing suite by mid-year. Tops Friendly Markets, Buffalo, N.Y., and both Giant Food, Landover, Md., and Giant Food Stores, Carlisle, Pa., are reportedly slated to implement the applications over the next few years, the source added.

Tops and Bi-Lo will not be replacing legacy systems, according to the source, who noted these retailers instead needed a system to automate and integrate store systems. Edwards Super Food Stores, a part of the Carlisle, Pa.-Giant Food Stores division, and Ahold's recent proposed acquisition Pathmark Stores, Carteret, N.J., have not yet been included in the upgrade schedule, the source said.

The suite, the A Series from Armature, is one piece of an integrated retail solution that will provide a platform to process data from forecasting, replenishment, inventory management and store management operations. A suite will be installed in each store, allowing it to interface directly with headquarters.

"The technology will allow us to increase productivity at the store level, while improving our customer-service offering," through increased accuracy and improved stock levels, Edwin Gropp, chief executive officer for Ahold USA, said in a statement.

The store operations package will transmit data from store point-of-sale systems to headquarters, providing a clearer picture of how each store is performing.

Other retailers that are installing the solution are Save Mart Supermarkets, Modesto, Calif.; Supervalu, Minneapolis; and Marsh Supermarkets, Indianapolis.