During the acquisition of Loeb by Metro Inc., CGI successfully completed systems integration with no disruption of service

"The company's management was particularly proud of this accomplishment, achieved in partnership with CGI."

Paul Garcia, Project Manager, Metro Inc.

The Client

In 1999, Québec supermarket giant Metro Inc., with sales of approximately $4 billion, acquired its competitor, Loeb. This made it necessary to integrate the 42 Loeb stores, along with its two distribution centres, in the SAP R/3 RETAIL 4.5.B system that was already in place at Metro Inc., combining everything into a single operations management system. Apart from the complexity of the financial aspect, it was the integration of Metro's and Loeb's daily operations that presented a real challenge.

The integration, which was to be carried out with no disruption of service, required great attention to detail. Any weakness in ordering operations, whether it originated from suppliers, grocers, warehouse administration, deliveries or billing, would translate into a sharp drop in revenues.

At the time of the acquisition, Loeb was using a software that had become obsolete, while Metro Inc. had just completed, with CGI's assistance, the implementation of a new, modern and efficient SAP program.

A team consisting of around fifty experts from CGI, collaborating with the team already in place at Metro Inc., was responsible for ensuring that the transition would take place smoothly. In fact, it was carried out to the customer's full satisfaction.

The Challenge

The transfer and the conversion of data between the two softwares were the two main technological challenges of the transition between the system that Loeb was using and Metro Inc.'s SAP R/3 4.5 B system. It was imperative that no essential data be lost or corrupted during the process. Bear in mind that these data covered the entire operations of a large grocery chain, including the enormous volume of inventory to be managed for all the divisions, data relating to billing and to suppliers, warehouse logistics and distribution by truck. Moreover, similar transitions had already been carried out at competing chains, and in those cases the exercise had exceeded the planned budget by several millions of dollars.

The Strategy

A team was formed, consisting of around fifty CGI employees with proven experience in the field of food distribution and, in particular, with SAP. The team worked closely with Metro Inc. representatives. After a functional analysis of the situation was made and the steps to be taken were carefully planned out, it was decided to carry out the implementation gradually. The necessary programming was done, integrated tests were performed and the required post-implementation support was provided, one step at a time. The team assessed each step as it was completed before proceeding to the next one.

The Technology

  • SAP R/3 RETAIL 4.5 B
  • AS/400
  • Exceed by EXE Technology

The Results

The successful integration of Loeb and Metro Inc. is a great source of pride for CGI.

"The company's management was particularly proud of this accomplishment, achieved in partnership with CGI, as well as of the preceding implementations, given the rarity of successful ventures of this type among supermarket businesses in North America," declared Mr. Paul Garcia, Project Manager at Metro Inc.

This project provides evidence of exceptional proficiency in the management and planning of complex and very large-scale operations, besides demonstrating, beyond all doubt, CGI's expertise with computer systems in the supermarket industry.

"HATS OFF to the CGI team!" declared Mr. Eric Richer LaFlèche, President of Loeb Canada. "This was a huge project which, I'm sure, will serve as a model for future implementations at Metro."

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