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Puratos to Deploy Covast for EDI
Successful Pilot Program Follows the Selection of Covast’s EDI Accelerator and Microsoft’s BizTalk Server

Atlanta and Rotterdam - December 3, 2003 - Covast, provider of the recommended electronic data interchange (EDI) solution for Microsoft Corp's BizTalk Server, today announced that Puratos has completed a successful Covast EDI Accelerator and Microsoft BizTalk Server pilot program for key customer Makro. Puratos now plans a major rollout of the system to many of its worldwide customers.

Founded in 1919 and headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, Puratos makes ingredients for bakery, confectionery and chocolate products as well as a host of other semi-finished and finished food products. Whereas EDI has been something that Puratos has been contemplating for several years, there were two reasons why Puratos did not embrace the technology sooner. Even though many of Puratos' large customers have EDI, many of Puratos' customers did not and were not asking their suppliers to do the same.

The second reason for Puratos not adopting EDI, until now, was a perception that there would be minimal, if any, return on investment (ROI). "A few years ago, EDI was and for most customers still is a very expensive solution," said Joachim Verheyen, eTechnology Manager, Puratos.

The two basic reasons for not doing EDI - customer expectations and ROI - now no longer apply. Puratos has customers in Spain, France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland that mandate Puratos to process orders electronically and send invoices electronically. The ROI misperception - the other fundamental reason Puratos had for not investing in EDI, has also changed as a result of finding vendors that drastically reduced the costs associated with implementing EDI. "With solutions like Covast and Microsoft BizTalk Server, it is much cheaper than it was," said Verheyen.

"We at Covast are extremely pleased that Puratos has chosen to utilize Covast's EDI Accelerator and Microsoft BizTalk Server as its EDI platform of choice in order to provide their customers with a total communications package," said Daan Scheer, founder and CEO, Covast. "Microsoft and Covast deliver a complete B2B environment that can provide instant connectivity to trading partners as well as a solid architecture infrastructure. Puratos has proven that with its initial pilot project."

Puratos chose Covast's EDI Accelerator for its pure EDI functionality and chose BizTalk Server for its underlying integration capabilities. "We chose Microsoft BizTalk Server and Covast together as a full EDI solution," said Verheyen. The products give Puratos' customers the option of using EDI, but they are not going to be forced to use this method in order to do business with Puratos. Customers can use EDI, they can use e-sales, they can use email, they can use fax, or whatever means the customer wants to use to interact with Puratos.

In terms of the pilot project, Puratos picked a customer that was in close proximity to its own headquarters location in Brussels, Belgium, where the IT team resides. The customer Puratos chose to work with is called Makro, which is a "cash & carry" food wholesaler and a member of the Metro Group in Germany. "The part of the pilot where Covast was concerned - setting up the software and integration into our backend - took ten days," said Verheyen. "For the pilot customer, we feel that we had a full blown EDI solution in ten days."

The same solution that Makro is using in the pilot will be used for all Puratos customers who want to use it. For Puratos, the system provides the classical advantages of reducing errors, speeding information flow, and not having to re-key information into different systems. "The whole list of the advantages of EDI applies here," concluded Verheyen.

About Covast

Covast provides the Microsoft recommended EDI solution for BizTalk Server. The combination of Microsoft BizTalk Server and the Covast EDI Accelerator delivers the ultimate B2B solution - enabling companies to easily integrate their EDI infrastructures with internal applications and providing a gateway for connecting trading communities. With its European headquarters in the Netherlands and its U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, Covast has strategic relationships with partners and customers including Microsoft, HP, Akzo Nobel, Grampian Foods, SMI Steel and Oldcastle. For more information, visit www.covast.com.

NOTE: The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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