Webvan Completes HomeGrocer Blend

With the survival of the company still very much in question, Webvan (Nasdaq: WBVN) announced some good news for a change Thursday, saying that it has completed the integration into its technology and business platform of acquisitions the company made last year.

Webvan said the consolidation, which included folding in the operations of HomeGrocer in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon, will enable the company to offer all of its customers the same products and services, as well as increase efficiency.

Webvan said the conversions took place a month ahead of schedule and should pay dividends in the form of improved financial performance.

“The conversion is a huge milestone,” Webvan chief executive officer Bob Swan said, adding that the new system borrows heavily from both HomeGrocer and Webvan and was put together by a team of employees from both companies.

Unified Front

“When Webvan acquired HomeGrocer.com, we knew we needed to operate on one unified technology platform and we knew we had to get there fast,” Swan said.

The consolidation will improve the shopping experience for customers, Swan added, enabling all Webvan patrons to order from the same inventory of products, and extending a quick-shop feature throughout the firm’s markets.

Milestone Reached

Webvan also said it has just filled its 4 millionth order. However, lately the good news has been outweighed by bad for the Foster City, California-based company.

Earlier in the week, Webvan sold off assets in Washington state that it once pegged for an aggressive expansion. A similar asset auction is planned for May 30th in Oakland, California.

Those sales are not expected to raise enough cash to save Webvan from looking for an additional capital infusion before early next year.

Troubled History

In April, Webvan lost its chief executive officer George Shaheen, who resigned after 18 months on the job. That announcement was later followed by controversy over Shaheen’s golden parachute, which entitles him to $375,000 per year for the rest of his life.

Webvan also recently laid off close to 1,000 workers, including more than 800 who were let go when Webvan quit the Atlanta, Georgia market.

At that time, Webvan also said it would conduct a 25-for-1 reverse stock split in order to keep its listing on the Nasdaq. Analysts say that maintaining the listing could be key to Webvan’s ability to raise the additional US$25 million it says it will need by early 2002.

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