On 5 July 2011 GGC Software Holdings Inc. (an affiliate of Golden Gate Capital) and Infor announced their acquisition of Lawson Software.
Lawson are the developers and vendors of Fashion PLM: a retail, footwear and apparel (“RFA”) specific solution which was evaluated favourably by the WhichPLM team in March 2010. Infor supplies its own PLM solution, RunTime, which has not been submitted for verification.
As I explained in an editorial on 22 July, the acquiring companies now find themselves with two distinct PLM solutions that cater specifically to the fashion industry. Each solution has an existing installed base, unique selling points and a storied history of updates and revisions. There will be customers of each who, following the announcement, could be forgiven some trepidation about future support and development arrangements.
In that editorial I intimated that GGC and Infor were unlikely to maintain development of both solutions for any serious length of time. It appeared to me that the overlap in their intended audiences (retailers, brands and manufacturers in the RFA industry) and, not least, their capabilities made concurrent development of both solutions economically and logically unviable.
On 26 July I spoke with representatives of Infor who, while formulating a fuller response, were keen to assure their customers (existing and prospective) that retiring any solution in continuous use would be against their long-standing policies. The suggestion was that users of both RunTime and Fashion PLM have exciting developments in their near future.
A substantial body of industry history shows us that, where these sorts of acquisitions are concerned, the new controlling body typically proclaims its intentions to maintain both solutions before, almost invariably, retiring one or both. In some instances the users of one solution are migrated to the other; occasionally both solutions are retired in favour of a third, yet more suitable acquisition.
This happens often enough that it could legitimately be referred to as standard operating procedure.
Since my initial conversations with Infor I have been able to source official statements from both parties, each of whom is keen to dispel any suggestions that this acquisition would follow suit.
Kevin Piotrowski, director of Solution Management at Infor, offered the following comments:
“Infor continues to invest in the PLM RunTime product. In the last couple of years we have released 3 new versions (v4.7.2; IQ Light (web enabled version); and v4.8). Currently, we are in the process of certifying release v4.9 (targeted for general availability towards the end of 2011). We continue to review our solution (functionality and technology) with our customers and continue to support and develop future releases to remain competitive in the marketplace.”
And an unnamed representative of Lawson’s PLM team explained that:
“Lawson has invested significantly in the Lawson Fashion PLM solution since the acquisition of Freeborders in 2008. We continuously review our technology platform and functional capabilities and have in place plans to ensure the Fashion PLM product suite remains competitive in the future. Our development team is currently in the middle of a significant development project that focuses on adding value through 1) improving the user experience, 2) making use of the latest technology, and 3) delivering applications with new and enhanced fashion industry-specific functionality.
Infor and Lawson Software will publish more information on our plans for Fashion PLM at an appropriate time in the future. In the meantime, our maintenance paying Fashion PLM customers can rest assured that they we will continue to receive support and that we are continually striving to improve their customer experience and make our customers stronger.”
All of which may go some way to reassuring existing customers of both solutions that they will not immediately find themselves in an interregnum of stalled development.
It appears as though both RunTime and Fashion PLM will enjoy continued development under the new ownership – for the foreseeable future at least.
Whether or not these claims are supported by action remains to be seen. It is certainly possible that this acquisition will buck the trend and that customers of both solutions will experience no interruptions to their support and development for years to come. As with past examples, only time will tell.