Safeway has pulled the plug on its online shopping activities just nine months after moving into the e-commerce arena with its Wines Direct and local Collect service. The online wine strategy started to flounder in August when third party fulfilment firm MadAboutWine pulled out of the deal after being taken over by Beringer Blass. At the time, Safeway said it was confident of finding a new partner for Wines Direct, adding: "This is not the end of our online presence." The Collect service, which enabled customers to shop online and collect goods ready picked and packed at a local store never really got off the ground, with trials proceeding in just a handful of stores. Chairman David Webster said the company had decided it would be wiser to redirect investment back into the core business as Safeway was not prepared to invest the amount of money required to set up a full blown home shopping operation. The move represents a significant U-turn for Safeway which surprised the trade in the spring by moving into cyberspace, having previously spurned it in favour of investing in Megadeals and new formats to bring customers back into its stores. {{NEWS }}