Kingfisher to open online whitegoods retail site

UK retailer group's Comet subsidiary to hit the Web

Kingfisher, Britain's sixth-largest retailer and owner of the Woolworths chain in the UK, is to begin offering what used to be called 'consumer durables' (whitegoods to the rest of us) over the Internet. Based around the company's Comet and Darty brands -- the latter is France's leading appliance retailer; Comet is number two in the UK appliance market -- the sites will initially provide an online catalogue for the stores' mail order operations. Later they will be upgraded to full e-commerce sites. The Darty site is set to go online in the next few weeks, said Kingfisher chief executive Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy, speaking at a retailing conference in London today. It's not yet clear whether the company will enhance its online outlets with its own, possibly free Internet access service. Other UK high street retailers geared up for e-commerce -- specifically consumer electronics company Dixons and grocer Tesco -- offer free Internet access to encourage customers to buy online. Last year, Kingfisher's Entertainment UK subsidiary began the group's first foray into e-commerce with a site devoted to video and music sales. ®

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