Plans for the floatation of online supply network GlobalNetXchange (GNX) have been shelved by UK grocery giant Sainsbury’s and its retail shareholder affiliates, for the time being.

GNX, founded at the height of the dotcom boom by the US department store Sears and French hypermarket giant Carrefour, stressed yesterday that in fact it had never promised to float. Market watchers have expressed interest in when GNX’s original investment will run out however, heightening speculation as to when its investors will inject more funds.

Sainsbury paid £9.5m for 5% of GNX in March 2000, at which point the retailer’s newly appointed CEO Sir Peter Davis said that a flotation would be likely in 18 months’ time.

Since then however the e-commerce project seems to have been left on the back burner. GNX members pledged to place at least 70% of their orders through the exchange, but Sainsbury’s, for example, has only put through £60m worth since the launch, no where near its total order amount.

Furthermore, the project’s main protagonist, e-commerce director Patrick McHugh, has since left the company, although Sainsbury’s says it still has a team working on the future of GNX.

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According to The Express on Sunday, rival retailing giant Tesco signed up to a different e-commerce network, WorldWide Retail Exchange, just one month after Sainsbury’s joined GNX. At the time, Tesco’s CEO Colin Dyer commented: “The purpose of this exchange is not to build something we can float so the founders can make a fast buck […] That clearly differentiates us from other exchanges.”