Retek finds a niche in Asian online market

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Retek, a maker of software for e-commerce, and a consortium of Chinese partners have formed an online marketplace to link more than 50,000 suppliers, manufacturers and retailers in Asia.

Initially MAI Exchange will be a domestic trading exchange for Chinese businesses, but the goal is to connect to Retek’s Global Trading Network.

Soon a US grocer looking for a specialty rice grown in China will be able to post a request through MAI to its members, said Retek spokesman George Beard.

“This is not only about building an electronic community in China, but it also involves an extraordinary level of involvement from political, economic and retail interests,’’ said John Buchanan, Retek chairman.

This is the first time an electronic trading community has been launched with the active participation and support of retail industry interests, government agency involvement, buyers, sellers, and a retail industry applications provider.

“The founding members represent all the right ingredients needed to build a powerful business-to-business network,’’ said Du Jin Ling, executive vice chairman of the CFIE. “Our new exchange will quickly bring value to China’s retail industries and provide reach to markets around the world.”

Retek is primarily in the business of licensing software to companies for internal use. Earlier this month Retek extended an alliance with IBM in a deal which is expected to generate more than $1 billion for the two companies by 2003.

The other principal members of the consortium are:
The China Federation of Industrial Economics (CFIE). CFIE is responsible for uniting trade organizations for the purpose of industrial modernization in China’s development of its market economy. The federation is composed of national, provincial, and local trade organizations. CFIE has more than 500 member groups, including more than 138 national trade organizations. Members include 300 of China’s largest enterprises and enterprise groups.

The National Integrated Company of Hualian Commercial Building, China Commercial Group (CCG). Hualian is the largest department store chain in China with over 400 locations. The company was established by the Bureau of Internal Trade, the ministry that licenses and regulates the retail and distribution industry in China. CCG has 55 subsidiaries and owns or is a major partner in a majority of China’s retail industry including shopping centers, retail department stores, specialty retail stores, supermarkets, distribution centers, distribution networks, real estate development, foreign trade, and technology development.

SumStar Group is the investment arm of the China Bureau of Light Industry with a mandate to develop opportunities in light industry, establish diversified businesses and to promote growth and competitiveness. SumStar is a partner with Revlon, Bacardi-Martini Group, Unilever, Matsushita Corporation, and other major domestic and foreign enterprises in China. SumStar’s parent agency, the Bureau of Light Industry, has 22 industrial consumer product divisions including electrical appliances, toys, furniture, glassware and ceramics, and sporting goods.

Multiple International Investment Co, a holding investment company located in Hong Kong, is involved in the modernization of China’s market economy. It owns 34 companies in a variety of industries throughout China, including major department stores, breweries, distilleries, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and movie and television production. The Group is actively involved in a variety of industries throughout China.

Beijing Sanhe Commercial Affairs Develop Co., Ltd. has 10 department stores located in various major cities in China and plans to expand to 20 stores during the next year.

Pacific Asia Corporation is a company involved in developing strategic relationships and joint ventures in apparel, textiles, technology, retailing, engineering, energy, education, and investment banking.

“We sought out Retek as our partner because of its deep knowledge of retailing and its solid reputation for technology leadership with retail.com, the Retek Retail Server, and well-established family of retail applications,” said Zhang Qingmin, chairman, MAI Exchanges. “MAI required a special company that could get us up and running quickly while working well with all the consortium members. Retek filled the bill. The potential for our relationship is boundless. It allows the Chinese retail and supply industries to fully integrate into the world economy using Retek solutions.”

Retek’s customers include A&P, Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Family Dollar Stores, Kohl’s Department Stores, Selfridges, Eckerd, The Home Shopping Network, Tesco, and Best Buy.

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