Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Monday, June 8, 1998 Published at 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK


WH Smith logs on to £9m internet book deal

WH Smith has moved to fend off the threat from on-line retailing

High street bookseller WH Smith has moved to fend off the threat from on-line retailing by snapping up Europe's biggest internet book retailer.

WH Smith is paying £9.4m for, parent company of The Internet Bookshop, which offers 1.4m books for sale to customers on the Internet across the world.

[ image: Ordering via the Internet is big business]
Ordering via the Internet is big business
The deal marks the latest stage in the group's turnaround following last year's takeover approach by Tim Waterstone, which, although it was rebuffed, put the City spotlight on WH Smith's performance and triggered a massive restructuring programme.

And it comes just weeks after WH Smith's £68m purchase of the high street stores of rival John Menzies and the £300m sale of specialist bookshop arm Waterstone's to a consortium including EMI and Mr Waterstone, the chain's founder.

Unveiling The Internet Bookshop deal, WH Smith chief executive Richard Handover said: "The electronic commerce market is currently relatively small, but we expect it to develop significantly over the next few years.

"The WH Smith brand had good potential to trade competitively in this market, particularly as the customer base broadens."

[ image: Book lovers can now buy their books off the shelves and the Internet]
Book lovers can now buy their books off the shelves and the Internet
Under the terms of the agreed deal, WH Smith is offering 265p cash per share, against 85p per share on Friday. chairman Simon Preston said: "The offer by WH Smith is an attractive one for our shareholders, unlocking the value of"

Its catalogue lists 1.4m books, 50,000 CDs, videos and computer games and last September it added 400,000 US titles to its database. was formed in 1992 by Darryl Mattocks as an information technology consultancy and it began retailing on the Internet in 1994.

Three years later its shares were listed on the Ofex market for small, growing companies.

WH Smith said the on-line market for books was estimated at around £200m, expected to grow to £800m by the year 2000.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Business Contents

Your Money
Market Data
Business Basics
Relevant Stories

29 May 98 | The Company File
John Menzies takeover gets all-clear

Internet Links

WH Smith

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Microsoft trial mediator welcomed

Vodafone takeover battle heats up

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

NatWest bid timetable frozen

No longer Liffe as we know it

France faces EU action over electricity

Inquiry into energy provider loyalty

The growing threat of internet fraud

Christmas turkey strike vote

Brown considers IMF job

Train robbery game hope for SCi

From Sport
League to rule on Sky shares

Mannesmann fights back

Online share dealing triples

Chinese imports boost US trade gap

Pace enters US cable heartland

The rapid rise of Vodafone

Storehouse splits up Mothercare and Bhs

Brown's bulging war-chest

The hidden shopping bills

Europe's top net stock

House passes US budget

Rate fears as sales soar

Safeway faces cash demand probe

Mitchell intervenes to help shipyard

Maxwell pledge to pensioners

Power cuts spark union warning

New factory creates 500 jobs

Drugs company announces 300 jobs

Oil reaches nine-year high

'Asian management culture must change'

US 'prepared for Millennium Bug'

Gucci on a spending spree