Montreal IBM centre geared to retailers

In a tightening retail outsourcing market, IBM’s new Montreal-based Retail Solutions Centre is aiming to be a perfect fit for retailers such as footwear firm Aldo Group Inc.

Markham, Ont.-based IBM Canada Ltd. announced Monday that the Centre will provide shared IT infrastructure support for Quebec’s retail industry and service retailers across Canada.

Through the signing of a seven-year, $32.4 million outsourcing deal, Montreal-based Aldo will be the first retailer managed by the IBM Retail Solution Centre, IBM said.

IBM’s in-house expertise, human resources and understanding of the retail market are reasons for the partnership, said Aldo spokesperson Martine Nadeau. She said IBM will implement and support Aldo’s IT infrastructure, including Retek and PeopleSoft software applications, as well as its network, data centre and HR management tasks.

She added that 30 Aldo employees will transfer to the Centre.

“The largest project is to implement the supply chain management – that means managing our merchandise form stock to distribution,” Nadeau said. “That means connecting with suppliers and stores for inventory reasons…all of the supply chain components will be integrated into one platform.”

The Solution Centre is a strategic investment for IBM, said Mark Langlois, Application Management Services business development manager for IBM Global Services. The outsourcing market is evolving away from legacy applications to an open and shared IT service infrastructure, Langlois noted, which allows companies to focus more on their core business.

“Multiple customers on the same shared service gives everyone a lower cost of ownership and a better service level than they would get on their own,” Langlois said.

The deal follows a recent IBM deal with the Ontario’s University of Waterloo and Toronto-based Manulife Financial Corp. to create a similar Solution Centre for the insurance services sector.

Langlois said IBM plans to open at least two more Solution Centres for other sectors in coming months.

IBM Canada Ltd. in Markham, Ont., is at