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Old economy firms feel dotcom sting

Budgens and Whittard make Net losses

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The excitement for getting into e-business has left a couple of old economy businesses with a bloody nose.

An aborted attempt to set up a Net business by Budgens cost it a little over £2.5 million. It was set up in 1999 and closed in September 2000.

Chief exec Martin Hyson said the costs of attracting and retaining online customers had proved prohibitive. Launch costs in the 1999 financial year totalled £1.23 million. Closure costs were another £1.23 million.

Meanwhile tea and coffee seller Whittard of Chelsea's half-year results include a loss of £1.3 million incurred from boosting its online presence and setting up a mail order operation. It bought the bestofbritish.com site as well.

But the turnover of Whittard.com grew 70 per cent for the six months to 26 November and sales through bestofbritish.com rocketed 240 per cent. Sales were probably pretty low, so the big percentage leaps probably don't mean much, but at least the business is growing. ®

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