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April 18, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:27pm

ICL AIMS FOR THE TOP US RETAIL SLOT WITH MICROSOFT

By CBR Staff Writer

Soon after Fujitsu Ltd bought an 84% stake in ICL Plc (CI No 1,568) – the company has sought to shed its identity as a hardware manufacturing company and become a systems and services firm. As part of that move, ICL has altered the focus of some of its business units from UK-centric to global. Once such business was ICL’s Retail Systems division, which moved out of Bracknell in the UK to Dallas, Texas in 1994. Making a mark on the world retail systems stage first required a dedicated assault on the North American market. ICL Retail Systems has now placed itself on a level battlefield to face the likes of IBM Corp and NCR Corp in the top slots, with fellow European Siemens AG, now also installed in North America, at number four. ICL made the decision to standardize all of its software systems to conform to Microsoft Corp’s ActiveX technology, under the GlobalStore brand. Earlier this year, Microsoft set up an alliance of OEM customers, independent software vendors, hardware vendors and larger retail store chains, to come up with a set of standards to guarantee interoperability among disparate retail systems around ActiveStore, which is Microsoft’s retail systems-specific version of ActiveX (CI No 3,084). ICL’s access to Microsoft’s retail systems technology was inherited from the merger of Retail Systems with Wake Forest, North Carolina-based software vendor Post Software International Inc last year. PSI develops business objects and tools for retail point of sale systems. ICL now uses the unit to train staff to build Microsoft-based application development tools for its GlobalStore software systems. GlobalStore was originally pitched at the general retail, speciality and home center industries, and now its architecture is being expanded to drive the company’s world-wide software strategy for all of its retail systems segments, including its Integrated Store Systems point of sale software, currently sold to the grocery sector. There are currently six customers for GlobalStore. More successful has been the implementation of the Corema Consumer Relationship Marketing systems, which enable retailers to assess customers’ purchasing habits and encourage them to spend more (CI No 2,934). Of the 1,500 installations worldwide, there are 500 in the US. The ICL division plans to expand into the fast food and convenience store sectors, which it believes are currently the fastest growing sectors in the industry. To the parent ICL Plc’s $5bn revenue in fiscal 1995, ICL Retail Systems contributed some $800m, around 16%. As a measure of the success of the US operation, this 16% was split almost down the middle between North America and European operations. ICL believes its new Microsoft-centered focus could lead it to the number two position in the US retail market by the year 2000.

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