CHICAGO -- Officials at Transora here, one of the three major electronic food exchanges, have embarked on a mission to meet with all 57 of its investors in an effort to possibly reposition itself for the future.
Transora Chief Executive Officer Judith Spreiser told SN that the company has already begun meeting individually with investors to determine what direction the company should be heading in and if it is hitting its mark with them.
"An important measurement of our success is that we are in a position such that we can choose the right direction for our investors," Spreiser said.
"I have begun 'making the rounds' to all our investors," she added.
Spreiser said her meetings began about one month ago. She said the purpose of the meetings was to get some feedback from the investors and to make them aware of the "possible evolutions" for Transora.
Spreiser said that while Transora still stands firmly behind its original business model, certainly the economic downturn has taken its toll.
"I think there is a different attitude and sense of urgency towards this," Spreiser said. Spreiser said the economic climate has slowed the rate at which companies have been willing to take on new initiatives, such as joining an exchange like Transora.
As a result, Transora laid off 24 workers [see SN Dec. 10] in a cost-cutting move.
"We are more comfortable now," Spreiser said. "We had to get leaner and meaner.
"The fallout from the Nasdaq [downturn] has made for a much healthier attitude towards this. Now, it's not the new economy; it's the economy."
Spreiser said she expects to be done meeting with Transora's investors by the middle of the first quarter of next year.
Thus far, Spreiser said she has met with about 12 of the investors.
"If I have heard a resounding theme, what I heard so far is that we are headed in the right direction," she added.
However, Spreiser said that once she has completed all of the meetings, the company will be better able to sit down and see if its business model and services offered are in need of any tweaking.
Following the announcement of the layoffs at Transora, Spreiser downplayed industry speculation that there was going to be a merger among the three major exchanges because the industry couldn't support all three.
The other two exchanges are WorldWide Retail Exchange, Alexandria, Va., and GlobalNetXchange, San Francisco.
The speculation heightened in June at the Grocery Manufacturers of America's Executive Conference when the CEOs of the exchanges speculated that a merger was imminent.
Now, Spreiser said she doesn't rule out the possibility of a merger. However, she also thinks that more collaboration or some type of joint operating agreement is also likely.
"I think both outcomes are possible," Spreiser said. "We have to be more active towards using commercial linkage [among the exchanges] as a process to deepen our alliances.
"We need to collaborate, build more trust," she added.
Transora is a business-to-business, online exchange that seeks to facilitate the trading relationships between retailers and suppliers, offering auctions, CPFR and item catalogs.