Northern Irish Spar operator Henderson Group is in the process of rolling out a broadband network to connect its company-owned stores and independents to head office.

117 of the 400 independent stores it supplies are already connected to the Vodat International network. Around 80 stores owned by Henderson will be connected imminently.

Henderson Group IT director Andrew Logan said that the secure network will help the company to achieve PCIDSS compliance, and also take the onus away from independents to manage IT themselves.

In addition, the network will support the introduction of the Aldata store replenishment system and wireless computers to Henderson’s own stores.

Logan added that while independents will not be forced to upgrade to the Vodat network, Henderson will begin to phase out some services it provides to stores via dial-up connections.

It is also looking at new applications that it could run to stores over the network, including VoIP telephony, CCTV and video and music.