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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Egg finds France tough going
Egg credit card

Online bank Egg is finding it harder than expected to crack the French market.

It said its recently launched 'la Carte Egg' credit card has made a slower start than it would have liked.

The comment came as Egg unveiled a loss of 15.7m ($24.9m) for the January to March quarter, compared with a profit of 2.4m in the same period last year.

The company - which is 79% owned by insurance firm Prudential - also said that it was putting plans to expand into the US on hold.

The disappointing news from France knocked Egg's share price, and by mid-afternoon the shares were down 12% at 90 pence.

Into the red

Egg's French business recorded a loss of 23.9m during the quarter, against analysts' expectations of a 15m deficit.

It said its customer base in France was now up to about 108,000.

Despite the sluggish start, Egg said it was pleased with its level of brand awareness in France and with the quality of customers it had attracted so far.

But it added it had pushed back its targets for the French business and now expected to reach break-even in 2005.

It also said it would invest an extra 140 million euros ($153m) in France over the next three years.

The French losses offset the profits at Egg's UK business which rose to 17.3m for the three months, up from 5m last year.

The bank said it had seen strong sales in personal loans in the UK and that its credit quality remained strong.

US on hold

Earlier this year Egg revealed that it had been considering an expansion into the US market.

But now these plans have been put to one side.

"Early findings suggest that there would appear to be attractive opportunities in the USA for an Egg branded proposition, however in the short term we do not intend to progress market entry plans," the company said.




SEE ALSO:
Egg eyes overseas expansion
24 Feb 03  |  Business
Egg hatches credit card in France
12 Dec 02  |  Business
Egg hatches rise in UK profits
23 Oct 02  |  Business


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