PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Safeway's plan to implement an e-commerce sourcing network for fresh foods has taken a significant step forward with the appointment of a corporate produce executive to spearhead the effort.
Ed Wright was named vice president, perishables e-commerce procurement, a new position created specifically for the initiative. As such, he is responsible for coordinating Safeway's e-commerce programs relating to all perishables departments, according to company officials.
The announcement comes several months after Safeway signed an agreement to begin buying produce through Agribuys, the Torrance, Calif.-based, business-to-business company operating a multi-category Web marketplace. According to Debra Lambert, Safeway's corporate public affairs director, Wright's responsibilities will include fresh categories besides produce.
"I don't know that we're there yet, but [other fresh foods] would be considered under Agribuys. It would include other types of perishables," she said.
Wright, formerly vice president of corporate produce, has been replaced in his old position by Rick Smith, who until now headed produce merchandising efforts for the retailer's northern California division, which operates primarily under the Safeway banner, and also 12 Pak 'N Save stores.
Initially, Safeway is implementing e-commerce procedures only for select produce items at several buying offices in the retailer's home state. The number of buying offices involved, as well as the number of produce items being bought through Agribuys' system, has not been disclosed by either the retailer or Agribuys.
The Safeway/Agribuys agreement is only one piece in a larger strategy by the retailer in pursuing e-commerce solutions. Safeway is also a principal member of the WorldWide Retail Exchange, the $100 million, Web-based B2B exchange founded in April 2000. WWRE is comprised of international food, drug and general-merchandise retailers, including Safeway, Albertson's and Ahold; as well as U.S. companies CVS, Kmart, Target and Walgreen's; French retailers Casino and Auchan; and Marks & Spencer, Kingfisher and Tesco from the United Kingdom [see "12 Retailers in Global Exchange for B2B on Web," SN, April 10, 2000].
The initiative was the second such launch of a business-to-business platform involving major food retailers. The other, GlobalNetXChange, was created last March by Sears, Carrefour and Kroger, among others.