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Europress falls into Hasbro clutches

Can we expect an Alan Tichmarsh doll?

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Hasbro is beefing up its interactive business with the acquisition of Europress, Macclesfield's very own consumer software house. The US toy giant will gain control of FunSchool, the UK's best selling educational software label for primary school children, a large range of National Curriculum-compliant study software, and a clutch of lifestyle titles endorsed by B-List and C-List British TV celebs ( Carol Vorderman !!! Alan Tichmarsh!!! Sharron Davies!!!) Hasbro says Europress will take it into software distribution and development for the first time. Good distribution -- or to be more precise good relationships with a couple of handful of buyers in a half a dozen or so major multiples -- is a key requisite for success in the highly concentrated UK software retailing scene. Europress appears to have that bag sewn up, judging from the large numbers of titles it manages to get on high street shelves. The Europress purchase is subject to due diligence, and terms are undisclosed. Which is a pity, as the price tag is probably the most interesting thing about the acquisition. In recent years, consumer software houses retired hurt, or disappointed. At best they got swallowed up by The Learning Company (itself bought by Mattel, Hasbro's arch-rival, this year). Trouble is, consumers don't really like consumer software -- in the way that they love, say, computer games, or the Internet. That's why publishers like to talk of ranges more than individual titles, which typically sell in puny numbers. ®

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