November 13, 2000 8:10 AM PST

Net grocer Streamline calling it quits

Streamline.com's days of bagging groceries are drawing to an end.

The Westwood, Mass., online grocer said Monday it is phasing out its operations and will stop its service Nov. 22.

In September, Streamline sold its Washington, D.C., and Chicago operations to Peapod--another online grocer brought back from the brink after European food provider Royal Ahold pumped $73 million into it.

Streamline's management held some hope that it could find investors or strategic partners to remain afloat or sell its remaining operations. The efforts, the company said, have fallen flat in light of current conditions on the financial markets for business-to-consumer Internet companies.

"After months of extensive discussions with potential strategic and financial partners, we believe we have thoroughly exhausted all possible options and must discontinue our service," Timothy A. DeMello, Streamline's chairman, said in a statement.

Companies selling groceries over the Internet have long been considered some of the more shakier business propositions. A few years ago, when e-tailing was just beginning to soar, Netgrocer.com earned the distinction of being one of the first to cut its staff.

The biggest hit so far, however, was the shuttering of Priceline.com's WebHouse Club grocery service in October, which exacerbated the declining fortunes of one of the Internet's biggest brand names.

And as recently as last week, Webvan, one of the leaders in the Web grocery business, said it would begin charging its customers for orders delivered totaling less than $75.

Streamline said it now plans to use its remaining cash, and the cash it raises from selling its assets, to settle with its creditors.

The company said it will provide severance to employees and retain a small staff to oversee its asset sale and to bring its operations to a halt.

 

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