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Norwegian Grocers Join Forces Against German Discount Chain

OSLO - Norwegian supermarket retailers are teaming up in a bid to defend their profitable business against German discount chain Lidl, which is scheduled to open 65 stores in Norway starting this summer, Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reports. Coop Norge, NorgesGruppen and Hakon, which have traditionally been bitter rivals, now hope to save millions by creating a new company to help distribute their goods.

Shoppers in Norway pay some of the steepest supermarket prices in the world, even with local so-called discount chains such RIMI and REMA 1000, making those who control grocery retailers and wholesalers among the richest people in the country. Lidl's entry into the market is expected to give Norway's merchants some real competition for a change. Through joint infomation technology and transport ventures, the Norwegian grocers' goal is to reduce costs, resulting in lower prices for customers.

According to Halvor Nassvik, logistics director for Coop Norge, the retailers had begun to think about a standardized distribution system even before Lidl's intention to enter Norway became known. The system, called TakeCargo, uses an Internet portal where grocers can order goods, issue transport orders, make changes, check delivery status, and arrange billing and payment.

Now the competitors are progressing with TakeCargo "clearly to contribute to our strength in the battle against Lidl," Nassvik commented to Aftenposten.
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