Webvan rolls out unified software platform, advertising

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Although Internet grocer Webvan Group faces a possible warning from NASDAQ that its stock is in danger of being delisted from the exchange, the company is moving forward with customer retention and acquisition plans, including new advertising from agency Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco. Webvan plans to complete by Jan. 17 the integration of HomeGrocer, which it acquired for $1.2 billion in September 2000, and is readying a multi-media campaign, including print, TV, e-mail and direct mail, for a late-January break. One of its promotional offers is to deliver groceries within a 60-minute window; HomeGrocer previously requested a 90-minute delivery window, while Webvan customers had a 30-minute window. Webvan operates in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Orange County, Calif., Portland, Ore., Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles.

The company, whose shares are trading well below the $1 that NASDAQ requires, acknowledged it may have to take aggressive steps to increase its share price to retain its listing. The company's share closed Jan. 8 at 47 cents, down 6% for the day; Webvan offered an initial public offering in November 1999 at $15 a share. NASDAQ issues warning letters after stock closes below $1 for 30 days; the stock could be delisted after a 60- to 90-day notice period. "We are well aware that we have to raise the value of our shares," said Bud Grebey, Webvan VP-corporate affairs. "But we are not in an alarmist mode."

Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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