Feeds

WH Smith sets sights on becoming portal

Recent acquisitions point in direction of online trading

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The UK high street's biggest newsagent, WH Smith, refused to confirm today whether its decision to buy new-media company Helicon Publishing Group was part of a wider strategy to create a new UK portal around its Internet Bookshop Web site. News of the £5.6 million acquisition -- along with a report that the newsagent is considering starting its own free Internet access service in an attempt to mimic the success of Dixons' Freeserve -- helped push shares up 82 pence in early morning trading. Earlier this week, Smiths revealed it had been briefing investment companies that it was ready to exploit its brand on the Web through the Internet Bookshop, which it acquired last year for £9 million. Speculation that Smiths is ramping up its online activity was further fuelled as executives held a series of high level talks this week to plan for the future. The company refused to disclose any of these closely guarded details but now that the Helicon deal has been made public, it appears Smiths has finally decided to take the Internet seriously. A representative of Smiths said the company was looking to sell a number of products and services online, not just books. But critics have been quick to attack Smiths' actions as too little too late, quoting a report published last week by Fletcher Research which warned that UK companies were in danger of losing out to US companies when it comes to online trading. But Debbie Robinson, who runs Internet Bookshop, said this was nonsense and that the company was one of the top two book e-tailers in the UK. Given there are only two big UK online booksellers, that's not much of a brag, however. "WH Smiths is well placed to take its brand onto the Net and is perfectly positioned to give the UK market what it needs," she claimed. "Smiths is a terrific brand and it is not limited to simply selling books," Robinson continued. Over the last six months the Internet Bookshop has doubled its customer base and its turnover is four times bigger today than the same time last year. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.