It's all change at the helm of the Global Commerce Initiative as Luc Vandevelde and Christian Koffman make way for Cees van der Hoeven and Antony Burgmans.

The GCI is an advisory group for the development of voluntary electronic transaction standards for business.

The outgoing co-chairmen who founded the initiative, Marks & Spencer chairman and CEO Luc Vandevelde and Johnson & Johnson worldwide chairman Christian Koffmann, yesterday announced the appointment of Ahold CEO Cees van der Hoeven and Unilever chairman Antony Burgmans to succeed them.

The GCI represents the interests of some 850,000 companies of all sizes, spanning the compete supply chain for consumer goods. Commenting on the first two years of GCI's existence, Luc Vandevelde pointed to the accelerated pace of change in the conduct of business transactions across continents:

"When we first came together in Paris in 1999 we had an instinctive notion of the need for global standards in the way we conduct our business. Today, with the rapid emergence of Internet Exchanges and improved information technology, the pressure on all of us to develop a common language of business is more intense and more immediate than we could ever have imagined."

Christian Koffmann looked back on the beginnings of GCI as a defining period for the consumer goods business with far-reaching consequences for industry: "GCI has demonstrated that a committed commercial user group can work effectively with existing standards bodies to help all companies, irrespective of size, with an extraordinary fund of expertise in the modelling of business processes.  We are emerging with a usable set of powerful strategic tools accessible to industry across the world. Let's not repeat the mistakes of the past: we hope the days of designing different electrical plugs for different countries are over."