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U.K. Retailer Goes On RFID Shopping Spree

Tesco buys 20,000 RFID readers and antennas for its stores and distribution centers
Tesco Plc has inked a deal with Tyco Fire & Security's ADT Security Services to buy 4,000 radio-frequency identification readers and 16,000 antennas for delivery by November. The equipment will be used in Tesco's stores and distribution centers throughout the United Kingdom.

The three-year contract extends a 15-year relationship between Tesco, the U.K.'s largest retailer, and the Tyco division that originated with its Sensormatic product line of security systems and electronic article-surveillance products. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Tesco will deploy several ADT antenna designs with ADT's Sensormatic SensorID Agile 2 reader, a multiprotocol and multifrequency RFID reader that the Tyco Retail Solutions Group co-designed with ThingMagic LLC. The project also includes OatSystems Inc.'s middleware and ADT's Device Commander, an application that synchronizes RFID devices.

During the first phase of implementation, Tyco will supply readers at dock and merchandise-receiving doors for 1,300 Tesco stores and 35 distribution centers to track cases and pallets of products.

Unlike Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Metro Group AG, which have begun to use RFID in their supply chains in recent months, Tesco hasn't yet mandated supplier participation. That's a good thing, some analysts say. "Tesco's decision to build up its infrastructure before bringing suppliers onboard will most likely lead to a more robust business case," says Gartner analyst Jeff Woods, "because if they have to pay for their own tags, they're probably more rigorous with their assessment."